Lamb shoulder couscous, with vegetables and chickpeas. Photo: Ronen Mangan | Styling: Amit Farber
Lamb shoulder couscous, with vegetables and chickpeas. Photo: Ronen Mangan | Styling: Amit Farber
Recipe

Lamb Couscous with Chickpeas

The richness of this lamb couscous develops over the three hours of slow cooking, which allows the liquid to reduce and deepens the flavor of the lamb

This recipe for lamb couscous is light, simple and quintessentially Moroccan. I don’t like couscous swimming in broth, so I make a stew with relatively little liquid (just to cover). This method helps the vegetables and the couscous to better absorb each other’s flavor. Since lamb is the main flavor component, there really isn’t any need for additional seasoning, except for salt and white pepper.

Couscous is the most common dish Moroccan homes, regardless of religious affiliation. Muslim households cooked couscous with ribs, seasoned with semneh (fermented clarified butter), the dish originated among the Berbers and from there it spread to every house in Morocco. Each city, of course, has its own iteration.

Making couscous was an incredibly labor intensive process back then, and still is today. Preparing and eating it is a kind of festive ritual: there are special couscous dishes that are only served on special occasions. When “couscous day” came, many guests were invited, and family, friends and neighbors would gather around the table.

Couscous as a dish, actually consists of two parts: the granules of couscous themselves, and the soup and its contents. The only two ingredients needed to make couscous, are water and semolina. To make it, we use a kish-kash (Moroccan sieve specifically used to make the pearls), a spray bottle, a couscoussier (a special double boiler to steam the couscous). Using ready made couscous significantly reduces the time for this flavorful lamb couscous.

Ingredients for Lamb Couscous

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks roughly chopped, with leaves
  • 21 oz (600 grams) lamb shoulder with the bone, cut into 4"/10 cm pieces
  • 8 oz (250 grams) chickpeas (of the Spanish variety) soaked in water for 12 hours
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon white pepper
  • 4 carrots medium sized, roughly chopped
  • 4 turnips peeled and halved
  • 10.6 oz (300 grams) pumpkin Cut into 2"/5 cm cubes (weight after peeling)
  • 4 onions small, peeled and halved
  • 1 leek medium, roughly chopped

To serve:

  • 21 oz (600 grams) couscous ready

Instructions

  • 1. In a wide, deep pot heat olive oil and cook the celery for about 5 minutes.

  • 2. Add the meat and chickpeas, pour in water to cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 3 hours until the meat is soft. After an hour and a half of cooking, season with salt and white pepper.

  • 3. After 3 hours, add the vegetables, cover and cook for 40 minutes on low heat until the vegetables soften.

  • 4. Divide the couscous into individual bowls, top with the stew and serve.

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