So, about a month ago, I was given the challenge of cooking Moroccan couscous for my Moroccan man. Generally, this dish is cooked in a Moroccan Handmade Cooking Tagine VegetableTagineand the couscous is steamed and hand separated, as it is cooked from raw. I haven’t yet mastered the art of tagine cooking and I don’t have the equipment to steam couscous. Once again, I was able to scour online recipes to rework and come up with one that I could produce perfectly.

Traditionally, vegetable couscous is referred to as 7 vegetable couscous and along with its meat laden counterparts, is served on Fridays. Friday takes on a whole new meaning in Morocco. While most of the rest of the world is out partying, it’s typically a quieter day throughout the souks across Morocco. Men traditionally head to the hammam in advance of Friday’s midday prayers, while women are at home preparing couscous. After all, preparing the couscous in true Moroccan style takes many hours. It’s a day when families gather, children have the afternoon off school and businesses may not open until late afternoon. It is similar to the western ritual of gathering for a Sunday dinner with family following the morning church service, Moroccans traditionally gather around the table to share a massive platter of couscous following Friday prayers.

Because tagine cooking is something I have not mastered yet, I opted to prepare mine in a lidded sautee pan but, check out the link and give it a try. Not to mention, I went the instant couscous route. All much simpler for this American girl. The challenge, as always, was to nail the traditional flavors. Luckily, for me, I was able to make this dish with a high approval rating! After dinner that night, my Moroccan man went right to his phone and reported to his Mom that I had made him couscous and he loved it. After he hung up the phone, he informed me that his Moroccan Mom was proud of me! I guess nailing Moroccan couscous is no small feat.

Here’s how I did it so, you can give it a try. As, always, feel free to add or delete vegetables… or add meat if you like!

 Ingredients:

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cuminIMG_0378(1)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

handful of chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

1 red, green, or yellow bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces

1 eggplant cubed

2 large potatoes cubed

1/2 cup green beans

1/2 cup peas

1 carrot sliced

2 zucchinis cut into slices

1/2 cup golden raisins

1 teaspoon kosher salt

grated zest of one orange (optional)

1 (14.5 ounce) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup orange juice

1 1/2 cups instant couscous

How to make it:

  1. Place 1/2 of oil in a large pan with a lid over medium heat. Stir in the cumin, ginger, cayenne, turmeric and black pepper; gently toast until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in remaining oil and onion, cook until softened. Add 1/2 cup of broth and splash of orange juice to pan, Stir in the bell pepper, and zucchini, eggplant, carrots, potatoes, peas and green beans; cook for 5-10 minutes covered to steam vegetables. Stir in the raisins, salt, zest, and garbanzos. Toss in cilantro. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot pour in the remaining chicken broth and orange juice; turn heat to high and bring to a boil. When the mixture is boiling, stir in the couscous and remove from heat; cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Place couscous on a large plate and top with vegetable mixture and serve.

Now, this recipe could ultimately be a one pot meal, if you so choose. Just add the broth and orange juice into the pan with the vegetables before they are cooked through. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the couscous. Cover and reduce heat to low to steam the veggies and cook the couscous about 3 minutes then remove from heat and let stand 2-3 more minutes. Be aware that the one pot method may call for more liquid, you don’t want your couscous to get dry and lumpy. So, keep your eye on it and add broth or orange juice as needed.

Enjoy! xo

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