Couscous is made out of semolina and it take hours to roll it to a specific size, but now you can buy a packet of couscous and make it in a few hours.

How to prepare the semolina

The couscoussier is a traditional two-pot steamer to cook couscous. The bottom pot can also be used for cooking the stew.

The couscoussier is a traditional two-pot steamer to cook couscous. The bottom pot can also be used for cooking the stew.

You will need to get a good quality couscous, open the packet and wash the grains of couscous from the dust. It just needs to be submerge with saltywater, move it around with your fingers and pass it to asieve and make sure you take out all the water. When the water is all out let him dry.

Pass the couscous through you fingers make sure it is separated, don't leave any lumps of couscous. After few minutes add some plain oil (sunflower oil) and mix it again with your hands. Add to the Couscousier (the name of steamer). It takes around 10 to 15 minute for the steam to cook the 1first part. The couscous is ready when you will see the steam pass through in full between the grains.

When ready, put it back into a large bowl and mix it with a wooden spoon and try to separate all the grain of couscous (until it cools down, give it ½ an hour to rest) and put it back for a second time. When the steam has passed through the couscous put it into a bowls and add some butter.

Reserve it until you serve, you can also steam some raisin or any types of dried fruit and add them to semolina.  

Couscous will be served most likely with stew made of lamb or chicken. Couscous Royale consists of the semolina and the stew and merguez (spicy lamb sausages). If you would prefer a vegetarian option, add more vegetables such as sweet pototoes, potatoes and parsnips, and triple the chickpea quantity. Alternatively, if you would like to use fish, ensure that it’s only cooked for five to eight minutes after vegetables have been cooking for half an hour.

How to make the stew

Ingredients

4 tbsp sunflower oil or 50g butter
1 onion, sliced
4 tomatoes, quartered
600g of lamb shoulder diced
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp Ras el Hanout or “Head of the shop” (spice mixture from North Africa featuring cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, ground ginger, cardamom, cloves, paprika, seasalt and pepper found in the north Africa)
1 tbsp paprika (extra to spice mixture above)
1 tbsp cumin (extra to spice mixture above)
Salt and pepper
1 tin chick peas
 1tbsp of good tomato paste
2 litres chicken stock
4 chicken drumsticks
6 Merguez lamb spiced sausages
3 turnips, each halved
4 Carrots, each quartered
1 bunch of coriander
2 zucchini, each quartered
 

Method

In pot, heat oil or butter and sweat onions and tomatoes until soft and transparent.

Add diced lamb and sear until brown.

Add all the spices including salt and peppers. Keep stirring, making sure you do not burn any of the spices.

Add tomato paste and chick peas (can be raw but need to be soaked overnight).

Add chicken stock or plain water and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add drumsticks about 20 minutes later.

While drumsticks are cooking, grill the merguez.

Add the vegetables (except the zucchini) and a whole bunch of coriander and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the zucchini and cook for 5 minutes.

Serve in big dish with semolina, make a hole in the semolina and add vegetables and meats on the top.

Garnish with grilled sausages and some fresh coriander.

If you would like a sauce condiment, take some of the stock and add harissa to make it spicier. Serve it on the side and enjoy!

Athmane's Roots

My name is Athmane and I am from France. My cultural back ground is Algerian (North Africa), my parents migrated to France in 1962 from a raging war. Life was very hard for them, as they didn't speak the language. and didn’t understand the French way of living.

A vivid memory I have growing up was of my mother’s passion for cooking.  I think this dish is symbolic of staying attached to their cultural roots.  Cooking couscous was always a way of remembering Algeria and our cultural background. I still remember the smell of her cooking and the love my mum had as she created this beautiful dish to feed the hungry tribe, but most of all our souls. 

Friday is a very important day for Muslims. It is more significant and more beneficial than any other day of the week.  It is the day that Muslims gather together to pray in congregation, and North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) we will have this dish to celebrate the the holiday. This recipe would be commonly eaten by families on Friday night. Traditionally, meat would only be eaten once a month.

I have watched my Mum with so much interest, I was glued to the kitchen and I still remember the smell of spices floating in the house.  The anticipation of a great meal was in our minds,

My dad was a very small grower, most of our vegetable were very simple, such as carrots, potatoes, tomatoes and fresh herds .we could also go to the neighbours and they will always have some veges in exchange of my mother’s couscous. Sharing is most beneficial reward we should do and it is a must in our religion, we were always feeling very great full to be able to give some away.

We always gathered for dinner and this magical dish was always on the table, friends and neighbours use to drop by and we would enjoy all together. 

Couscous is so versatile.it can be we can eat it the stew or with laben (fermented milk).My Father use to add sugar or watermelon and grapes to make simple desert. 

It has always been a great feeling to eat this dish with my family, it brought me back home in south of France.