Algeria - The “Real" Couscous
I’m not sure what it means to be cooked the real way. I did read that they pop each individual piece by hand which is crazy! But the stew you mix in was absolutely delicious. Chicken was fall off the bone tender. And with the amount of veggies in this dish, I absolutely know I got my serving for the day, haha. But because of all the veggies, it was hard to make it look good.
The above was my instagram caption and I made this dish way back in February of 2018. Now I know WHY it’s called cooking the “real” way even though I totally did not cook it the real way, which you’ll learn from my instructions below.
The real way is picking out the bad bits, and then steaming the couscous. I think you essentially get the same effect by cooking based on the packaging instructions, but what do I know?
Back in 2018, I went to Israel for a weeklong trip with Justin and his school. They served this in our kibbutz. It was pretty amazing. They also included the Israeli mafrum (stuffed potatoes) WITH this “real” couscous dish. A literal feast.
Also, based on the photo, can you tell how far I’ve come? Most of my photos now are light and airy and has a very unique look and feel compared to the older photos, don’t they?
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 chicken thighs or roughly 2 pounds lamb, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, quartered or chopped
1 parsnip, peeled, quartered or chopped
1/4 turnip, peeled, quartered or chopped
2 zucchini, quartered or chopped
2 potatoes, peeled, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, drained
6 cups water
500g package couscous, usually comes in about 450g which is fine
1 tablespoon ghee
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 glass of water
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tablespoon oil
Salt and pepper
Dried mint, dash
Heat a large heavy skillet, or preferably a large pot, over medium high heat. When ready, add a little olive oil. When the olive oil is shimmering and heated through, add the onions and minced garlic. Give it a good stir for about 2 minutes before adding in the chicken. Season with garam masala, turmeric, ground cloves, and ground cardamom and give it a good overall mix.
Add the vegetables on top of the chicken (or lamb) along with about 4 cups of water. Turn the heat too high. Season with salt and pepper. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 40 minutes.
Now, add the tomatoes, drained chickpeas, and mint and 2 cups of water. This will give it a stew consistency. Cook for another 30 minutes. Season as necessary.
In a separate pot, cook the couscous per packaging instructions. In Algeria, a traditional method is to soak it in water, and physically rub your hands in oil and through the couscous. But that is very labor intensive. And nobody has time for that in this busy world. When the couscous is done, add the tablespoon of ghee and 2 teaspoons of butter. Season with salt.
Serve the couscous on a plate, topped with chicken in the middle, and arrange the vegetables in a circle around the chicken. Then, drizzle some of the stew sauce on top of the veggies. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Genius Kitchen.