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Algerian Couscous with Aromatic Vegetables

October 12, 2009

Couscous Header

As I write this, I’m listening to a podcast of Michael Palin discussing his new book Halfway to Hollywood. I’m finding the sound of Palin’s voice very reassuring. He traveled the world in 80 days. I simply must cook it. In my own kitchen. In as many days as I like.

Little cooking tricks can make the difference between an okay dish and a super star. I learned an easy and important couscous trick from Claudia Roden author of the gorgeous cookbook Arabesque: A Taste of Morocco, Turkey, and Lebanon. Rubbing the couscous between your hands, twice, is the best way to break up lumps and make it fluffy. Roden’s foolproof couscous recipe follows. I’ve altered it slightly, with the addition of olive oil to the water.

Couscous Main


Oven preheated to 400 degrees


2 1/2 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups couscous


Add the water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt to a small saucepan and heat. Place the couscous in a casserole dish. Add the warm, salted water to the couscous, stirring to insure the water is evenly absorbed. Cover for 10 minutes then add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the couscous between your hands, over the casserole, breaking up any lumps. The rubbing of the couscous is Roden’s little trick for a fluffy, non-lumpy dish.

Add the casserole to the preheated oven and heat for about 20 minutes, until it is steaming. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Before serving, work 2 more tablespoons of olive oil into the couscous, breaking up any further lumps and fluffing it. Top with aromatic vegetables and serve.

Serves 6



1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cloves
2 medium yellow squash, cut into chunks
4 large carrots, sliced
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, skins on cut into chunks
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced


In a medium saucepan, gently heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic, cooking until translucent. Add all the spices except the cinnamon. Stir to combine and continue to heat over gentle flame. Add the vegetable stock and once warmed, the tomato paste. Stir and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the vegetables and the cinnamon, then cover and simmer for an hour. Do not allow to boil. Like many dishes, tastes even more fabulous the next day. Has anyone written The Next Day Cookbook?

Serves 4

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2009 3:37 pm

    I had it for lunch! Loved it. Fluffy couscous and a slightly sweet vegetable stew on top. Delicious.

  2. November 10, 2009 10:48 pm

    This blog makes me want to start my own blog.


  1. Algerian Couscous with Aromatic Vegetables (via I Cook The World) « 32countries
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