In my experience, there is only one way to make truly delicious couscous, and that is by using the steaming technique. It does take time, and yes, it can be a bit messy. But there is simply no comparison with the instant packages you can find in the supermarket.
But to make steamed couscous you will need a couscoussier, or steaming basket. You can find these online, or in an African store where they are very inexpensive.
In brief, the steaming of couscous happens in three stages. In between those steaming stages water, oil and salt is rubbed (with the hands) into the couscous. The couscous steams above the broth with the vegetables. But as some vegetables need a longer cooking time than others, they are added to the stock at different times.
7 vegetable couscous
The 7 vegetable couscous is a very popular dish in Morocco. They use multiple and different vegetables. Each vegetable is cooked in a way that it keeps its own identity. Traditionally the stock is made from meat. But I have used a home-made vegetable stock which I pre-made.
For the vegetables I chose; carrot, turnip, onion, tomato, courgette, fennel and red bell pepper. I used as well a good handful of pre-cooked chickpeas. Other vegetables that you might consider to use are; Butternut squash, feve beans or cabbage. The vegetable should be cooked but kept intact (so never mushy).
Tfaya is a sweet garnish of caramelised onions and raisins and seasoned with lots of aromatic spices. I really like to add a bit of Tfaya to my couscous, it gives it so much more flavour. But of course this is just optional. Once you familiarise yourself with Tfaya, you might end up using it on many more dishes.
If you are interested in other Moroccan dishes, check out some of my other recipes;
I hope you can allow yourself the time to make this traditional vegetable couscous. Let me know what you think of the outcome. I always love to hear about your experiences. Or add @haricoco1 to your instagram post. ENJOY the couscous, and enjoy the process of the making 😉
This vegetable couscous recipe is part of my new (and still under construction) series; ‘Travels of taste‘. We use our taste buds to travel the world and discover the use of our senses and imaginations to meet other cultures through food. So today we find ourselves in Morocco. Walking around the hustle & bustle of the souks, and discover all the flavours Morocco has to offer, check out my full Moroccan ‘travels of taste’ post; >>> Morocco – the flavours of the souks.
Start with making the Tfaya, by putting all ingredients (except orange blossom water) in a small pan, and bring to a low simmer.
Leave to simmer for minimum 30 minutes (to an hour).
At the end add a little of the orange blossom water, if using.
Meanwhile we start with the couscous.
Heat the stock in your pan, add the fresh ginger, turmeric, and black pepper ( and salt if needed) bring to the boil, covered.
Make sure you have all your vegetables readily cut before starting the couscous.
Prepare your couscous workspace with a bowl, the couscoussier (steaming basket), olive oil, water, and salt.
before the first steaming, pour approx. 2 tbsp of olive oil over your couscous (in the bowl) and with your hands roll the couscous through the oil, while rubbing the grains through your fingers so no clumps are appear.
Add about 1/3 cup of water, and while tossing and rubbing work the water into the couscous so no clumps appear.
Transfer the couscous to your couscoussier (steaming basket), making sure not to compress it. And place on top of the pan with boiling stock.
Steam for 15 – 20 minutes.
After the first steam, take your couscoussier off, and transfer the couscous to your bowl, leave to cool slightly.
Add the onion and tomato to your stock and leave covered, while working with your couscous.
Add about 1/3 cup of water to the couscous, and toss and rub through the couscous.
Add 1 tsp of salt and toss it through.
Pour in another 1/3 cup of water and again rub and toss the water through the couscous, so it all get well absorbed without clumps.
Uncover your pan with stock, add the carrots and turnips to the stock, bring back to the boil, and place the couscoussier on top.
Pour the couscous back into the steamer, close the lid, and leave to steam for another 15 – 20 minutes.
Take the steamer off the pot again, and carefully pour the couscous in the bowl, leave to cool shortly.
Meanwhile add the red pepper stripes and fennel to the stock and cover.
Add the remaining water, approx. 1 cup bit by bit into the couscous. Toss and rub the couscous while doing so.
Check the couscous for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.
Put the courgettes into your stock, and bring back to the boil. Place your steamer on top, and carefully pour the couscous back into the steamer. Steam again for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes take the steamer basket from the pot, and pour the couscous in its bowl, leave to cool slightly.
Check if all your vegetables are cooked.
Take all your vegetables out of the stock with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
Pour in the pre-cooked chickpeas to warm up, approx. 5 minutes, and take these as well out with a slotted spoon.
Reduce the stock by half (depending how liquid it still is) and check its seasoning.
Pour the rest of the olive oil in the couscous and work it into the grains by tossing and rubbing.
Take about 1/3 cup from the stock and work that into the couscous.
Use a nice shape bowl to top the couscous onto a plate.
Make a little well in the top, and put about two large heaped tbsp of the Tfaya on the top (or more if you like).
Drizzle the chickpeas over, and layer the vegetables in a nice decorative manner on the sides.
Sprinkle a bit of chopped coriander and parsley over the top.
Serve with a jug with the rest of the stock on the side, and some harissa.
You can use other vegetables , such as;
butternut squash / pumpkin
7 vegetable couscous
Amount Per Serving:
% Daily Value*
Total Fat10.05 g
Saturated Fat 1.28 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Total Carbohydrate79.25 g
Dietary Fiber 17.18 g
Sugars 27.45 g
Vitamin A 55.18 %
Vitamin C 86.95 %
Calcium 17.22 %
Iron 34.81 %
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.