April 30, 2023
Tunisian couscous is a traditional and a staple dish from Tunisia. It is delicious when following a good recipe but first do you know what is couscous and its origin?
What is couscous?
Couscous is a type of small, granular pasta that is made from semolina flour, which is a type of wheat. Couscous is cooked by steaming or boiling, and it can be served hot or cold. It has a slightly nutty flavor and a fluffy texture, and it can be used as a base for a variety of dishes, such as salads, stews, or as a side dish to accompany meats and vegetables. Couscous is also popular in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East and Europe, and has become a popular ingredient in many different types of cuisines.
Where is couscous from?
Couscous is believed to have originated in the region that is now modern-day Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. Although the exact origins of couscous are not completely clear, it is known that this flavorful ingredient has been enjoyed for centuries. Some Arabic cookbooks from the 13th and 14th centuries feature couscous recipes, but there are earlier sources that allude to the use of this versatile ingredient as well.
The Maghreb region, which encompasses countries such as Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, and much of the Middle East, is where most couscous is made from durum wheat - the same grain used to make semolina flour. The Berbers, an indigenous ethnic group from Northwest Africa, are credited with the invention of couscous in the 11th or 12th century Maghrib.
How to make Tunisian couscous?
• 2 lb lamb stew meat cut into large pieces
• 6 cups couscous fine or medium semolina
• 2 onions finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, pressed
• 4 tablespoons tomato paste
• 2 tablespoons harissa
• 2 tablespoons ground caraway
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon chili powder
• 4 turnips, cut in half
• 6 medium carrots, peeled
• 4 zucchini, peeled lengthwise, alternately leaving a layer of skin
• 6 small potatoes, peeled
• 10 oz chickpeas (canned) or fresh and soaked in water overnight
• 4 green hot peppers, fried in oil (optional)
• olive oil, salt and pepper
1. Pour the semolina into a shallow dish and add lightly salted water to barely cover the grains. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil in droplets over the semolina and gently separate the grains by rubbing them in the palm of your hands. Transfer the semolina into the top portion of the couscous pot.
2. Add ½ cup (120 ml) of olive oil into the bottom of a couscous pot. Fry the onion over medium heat for 2 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, tomato paste and harissa and continue frying for 2 minutes.
4. Add the caraway, coriander, and chili powder. Mix and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
5. Add the lamb meat and mix well so that the pieces are covered with sauce.
6. Cover with water. Add the turnips and carrots. Place the top portion of the couscous pot containing the semolina on the lower portion of the pot and cook on low/medium heat for 45 minutes.
7. After 45 minutes, add the zucchini, potatoes and chickpeas.
8. Cook for another 30 to 40 minutes over low to medium heat. Monitor the cooking of the vegetables. If some vegetables are cooked before the meat, remove them from the pot and place them on a serving platter. Proceed in the same way with all the vegetables to prevent them from cooking too much.
9. 10 minutes before the end of cooking, get a few ladles of broth (one at a time) and wet the couscous semolina. Mix the semolina well after each ladle until it gets moistened enough.
10. Arrange the semolina in a tajine dish. Decorate the dish with the vegetables and meat all around. Garnish with fried green hot peppers (optional).
Enjoy this delicious dish!
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