Couscous is one of the most popular dishes around the world. Tasty, hearty and exotic, it has everything needed to please. This Berber culinary speciality consists of semolina, vegetables and meat.
Along with the tajine, it is one of the most emblematic dishes of Maghreb cuisine, even though it is found in many African countries.
Generally, couscous is prepared using a couscous maker. However, not everyone has this rather bulky appliance. You can, therefore, prepare your couscous in a cast iron pot or simply in a pan.
Even if this dish takes time, it is not very complicated to make. It is often found with meat or is simply vegetarian. But be aware that there are couscous made with fish as well.
Here are our tips to make it a success:
1. The right kind of semolina
Semolina is extremely important in couscous. Thin, medium or thick? To choose the semolina that will make your couscous delicious, choose a medium size. The grain will remain light and digestible. You can buy pre-cooked semolina. Remember to add a small knob of butter to prevent the texture from drying out.
2. Perfectly cooked vegetables
To have a tender and well-flavoured vegetables, you will have to cook them in the broth so that they become infused with all the flavours. Favour fresh vegetables rather than canned or frozen ones, as they will hold better when cooked.
Don't forget to adapt your dish with seasonal vegetables: no tomatoes in winter and no courgettes. However, you can add other vegetables such as squash or sweet potatoes.
3. Plenty of spices
Nothing more frustrating than tasteless, bland couscous. To avoid disappointing your friends or family, be generous with the spices. Cumin, turmeric, coriander, ginger, ras-el-hanout, use and reuse the spices.
If you have had a heavy hand on spices or salt, don't panic! That doesn't mean your dish is spoiled. Just add a raw, peeled potato to your broth and let it absorb the surplus.
4. A soft and well-cooked meat
Originally, traditional couscous contains only one type of meat. Chicken, lamb, beef or mutton. The royal couscous which contains several types of meat is an invention to satisfy the tourists and is far from the traditional kind. Sear the meat well before cooking it in the broth with the vegetables.
5. The small condiments which texture the couscous
Semolina? Ready to go. The meat? Soft. Vegetables? Tender. Broth? Tasty. Your couscous is almost ready, you just have to add some small supplements to put the finishing touches on it. Chickpeas (soak them the night before to make them more digestible), little raisins (soak them in the broth to make them soft) and harissa, for those who love strong flavours.