The perfect vegetarian couscous

IMG_9066Having just spent 5 days in Marrakech and eaten this till it came out of my ears, I decided I needed to find a good recipe and try out my new couscous dish that I bought at the roadside! This recipe is loosley-based on a very old Claudia Roden one, and she knows everything about Middle Eastern cooking, so you can’t go wrong! Despite the number of vegetables, this is in fact dead easy, and can be cooked in advance and heated up. Cous cous is for sharing so this is for a party!serves 8-10

500gms couscous
6-8 chopped dates
2 large onions, thickly sliced
1 can chicken peas
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
good pinch of saffron, soaked in hot water
2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp paprika
good pinch of cayenne or a couple of dried chillies
1/2 tsp ginger powder
salt & pepper

Choose at least 5 vegetables from the following list:
2-3 large carrots, sliced vertically into 4 pieces
1 small sweetheart cabbage cut into segments
artichoke hearts
250 g /8oz raisins
1 large aubergine, sliced vertically into eighths
500 gm or 1lb small waxy potatoes
4-5 small turnips or kohlrabi, quartered
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 5 cm/2 inch squares
1-2 courgettes, quartered vertically
4 tomatoes, quartered
parsley and coriander to garnish.

Place the onions, garlic and spices into a large pot with a litre or so of water. Bring to boil and simmer gently, adding chicken peas. Season.

Then add the veg in order of cooking time – so potatoes and squash first, then turnips and kohlrabi and raisins, followed by aubergine, and courgettes, and finally by artichoke hearts and cabbage. Top up water if necessary so the veg are well-covered.

Put a lid on the pan (I use an enormous wok) and let it cook gently until the vegetables are cooked but still crisp. I cooked this a few hours before I needed it, just laying the cabbage on top and switching the gas off, and then heated it all up at the last moment. This meant the cabbage retained a crispness and freshness.

Meanwhile cook the couscous according to packet instructions – usually requires adding hot water and leaving it to steep. I put the chopped dates in the saucepan just to make it richer. You can leave the couscous in the pan until you need it, or put it in the oven in a serving  dish underneath a dish-cloth.

When you’re ready to serve, put the couscous on the bottom of the dish and pour over the vegetables and their juice. You need to make sure that there is quite a bit of stock, so I top up the pot if it’s looking too dry.

Sprinkle with parsley and coriander.


My couscous dish is like the one on the top row



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