Perfect couscous – Marrakech style! How to make perfect couscous

Couscous is a versatile staple of Moroccan cuisine. It comes in two forms, the standard ‘as-nature-intended’ version or pre-steamed, although the latter, despite being easy and quick to make, tends to lose some of its flavour in the process. Here’s how to make perfect couscous, Marrakech style.

To make this dish one really needs a couscoussier, a perforated steamer, although a fine colander may suffice.

1)      Moisten the couscous by adding ½ cup of water to 3 cups of medium grain couscous. Leave the couscous to absorb the water for 10 minutes.

2)      Repeat this process. Each grain should now be swollen and you should be able to pass each through your fingers without lumps!

3)      Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the couscous.

4)      Bring a pan of water to the boil and steam the couscous on medium heat for 20 minutes.

5)      Empty couscous into a bowl and let it cool slightly. Sprinkle ½ cup of warm water over and run the couscous through your fingers again to ensure there are no lumps. Let the couscous rest for 10 minutes.

6)      Return the couscous to the pan and steam for a further 40 minutes (allow enough water to boil).

7)      Your couscous will now be cooked perfectly, swollen and soft, light and separate.

To give your couscous that perfect Moroccan flavour, why not try this sweet and spicy lamb couscous with seven vegetables?

You’ll need the following ingredients –

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and quartered
  • 450g carrots, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 450g cabbage, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 450g broad beans, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 450g turnip, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 450g pumpkin, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 450g sweet potato, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 450g courgettes, chopped to 1 ½”
  • 1 chilli pepper
  • A handful of raisins
  • 6 tablespoons of butter (unsalted)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ teaspoon powdered turmeric
  • A bunch of fresh green coriander and parsley, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method for perfect couscous

1)    Place the lamb in a pan with half the butter. Add salt, pepper, saffrom, turmeric, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, coriander and parsley. Cover and cook gently for 10 minutes.

2)    Add 5 pints of water to the pan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

3)    Add carrots and turnips and simmer (covered) for a further 30 minutes.

4)    Now add the courgettes, broad beans, chilli pepper and raisins.

5)    In a separate pan, use some of the liquid to cook the pumpkin and sweet poatatoes.

6)    After 30 minutes, spread your couscous out into a serving dish, making a well in the middle. Transfer the meat and vegetables into the well. Add the pumpkin and sweet potato.

7)    Drain the liquid broth from the main pan and serve this separately.

Your perfect sweet and spicy lamb couscous with seven vegetables is ready!

If you’re thinking of visiting Marrakech, do consider our boutique, character hotel where the restaurant offers a wide range of Moroccan, as well as European, dishes. We also operate a number of cookery courses on the preparation of most of the classic dishes in Moroccan cuisine.

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