In the third week of quarantine, and as I was running from the laundry room to the kitchen, to my room to finish some chores, I thought to myself what would make this day better? A hearty, nourishing meal is the first thought that popped into my head. I asked my mom how to make a Moroccan lamb and vegetables couscous as she is very good at creating and following recipes and anything kitchen related. She asked a Moroccan friend of her (Well, she’s my friend too, but my mom can do it better!) about the recipe to make sure not to forget anything, and I started actioning.
I remember my mother doing this dish once last year, and I haven’t got it out of my mind ever since. This recipe is very fragrant, sweet, and the lamb and vegetables will soak all the spices’ fragrances as they slowly cook to create the best fulfilling flavors. This delicious recipe provides plenty of extra servings for the next few days.
To make this recipe, you need a couscoussier, which is a traditional Moroccan pot looks like this. It has two parts. The bottom side is large to stew the vegetables and meat. And on the top, the couscous steam on the infused aroma that is coming from the vegetables/meat stock.
This Moroccan dish uses cubes of lamb, beef cuts, or boned chicken. I had some ribeye steaks and went for it. But it’s preferable if you use cube (1-inch cubes) cuts or chunks of lamb or beef.
I serve this Moroccan lamb stew with couscous, which is a small rice-sized pasta made of semolina and wheat flour. You can find the quick version in the middle eastern supermarkets–what I used here. Though, in Morocco, they use a slow-cooking version. The couscous cooks quickly and absorbs flavors very easily.
We use cold water for the couscous to prepare. Hot water makes it clump. Know your vegetables and their cooking times so you can cook them right and looks good at the end.
The vegetables should be cut in big, long chunks. And the cabbage should be cut into two halves only.
1 ½ pound ribeye steak 1 medium tomato, cut cubes 1 red onion, cut julienne 1 tsp. Salt 1/2 tsp. Pepper 1 tsp. Safran powder 1 tsp.Turmeric 1 tsp. ginger 1 Tbsp. butter (Morrocan butter if you have it, I didn’t) Coriander and parsley bouquet 2 Tbsp. olive oil
Put the olive oil in a heavy pot, add the meat, then all the vegetables and spices. Toss it to mix all together, then put the herb bouquet.
Add the butter, we haven’t put the butter at first with the oil, because the pan was too hot and it could have burned. Stir until you see the onion and tomato tender.
When the meat turns browns, add hot water on top of the meat, the water should cover the meat, about 6-7 cups of hot boiling water. This is going to be your stock so the water should be plenty.
Keep cooking the meat for approx. one hour depends on the cut itself. After half-cooking it, remove from the pot and set it aside.
The vegetables & the couscous
The half of a small white cabbage 1 Butternut squash 2 carrots 2 red chili pepper 3 zucchinis 2 carrots 1 medium tomato, cut cubes 1 red onion, cut julienne 1 big red pepper 1 cooked hummus can 1 tsp. Salt 1/2 tsp. Pepper 1 tsp. Safran powder 1 tsp.Turmeric 1 tsp. ginger 2 Tbsp. olive oil The Couscous 1/2 kilo couscous 5/6 cups water 1 Tbsp butter 1 tsp. Salt 2 Tbsp olive oil
Bring a bowl and put the couscous in it with a pinch of salt and one Tbsp of oil to prevent the grains from sticking together when you cook it.
Pour cold water slowly on it, and stir with a spoon until you feel that all the grains are submerged with water. About 1/2 1 cup gradually. After a while, you’ll notice that it absorbs all the water. Break it up again with your hands if there are any lumps in there.
Take the down part of the pot and prepare for another stew for the vegetables. Put 2 Tbsp olive oil, place the onion and the tomato. Put the same spices we’ve put in the lamb, and stir until its tender
Pour the meat stock on top of the tomato and onion mixture. We removed the meat before because it will be hard to pour the stock with the meat on the pot! Now add the meat to the Morrocan pot to continue cooking it.
On medium heat, slowly put the hard veggies. First the cabbage and make sure that it will stay intact; let it cook for 3 minutes, then left it and put it on a side dish. Start putting the tender veggies, like the carrot, and chili (for 5 minutes). Then add the most tender ones- the pumpkin, pepper, and zucchini-at last because it cooks fast (for 5 minutes). Pour in hot water to cover the vegetables if needed.
Leave the vegetables to cook. In the meanwhile. Put the top half of the pot and close it with the lid. When it starts to boil and steam appears in the top half, place the couscous and let it steam for 8-10 minutes.
Take the couscous off the streamer, and move it to a clean bowl. Add a Tbsp of butter and some of the stock (1/4 cup) to it, and stir. We will get it to the steamer again after steam starts to form, for about 5 last minutes. The couscous will take 10-15 minutes to be done.
Put the hummus as the last step in the stock as its already cooked. Add 1tb of butter, wait 1 minute and take the pot off the heat. Place all the vegetables and the meat on a side plate to rest.
Bring your biggest plate, and build the dish as follows. Loosen the couscous with a fork as you put it on the plate. Place the cabbage on the sides of the plate, then start to assemble the veggies on a circular look on top of the cocos leaving the center of the circle for the meat. Normally, the meat served under the veggies but I liked it to be shown.
Put some of the onion with a spatula on the center of the dish if you want. Pour some of the stock on top of the plate, but don’t pour much of it, because you will have some of it as a gravy side dish.
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