Couscous is one of the most emblematic traditional dishes of Moroccan cuisine. A national dish that is a symbol of sharing and conviviality. Gathering around a delicious couscous binds people together and testify to the hospitality and generosity that characterize Moroccans so well. It is also the customary Friday noon meal, following the prayer at the mosque, a tradition well rooted in the Kingdom!
 
Vegetarian, with meat or chicken or sweet flavored with cinnamon… couscous can be prepared in thousand different ways according to multiple regional variations and special occasions. Karim Benbaba, the Chef of La Grande Table Marocaine of the Royal Mansour Marrakech reveals his recipe for the traditional seven-vegetable couscous. This authentic recipe requires the use of a couscoussière or other large pot fitted with a steam basket.

How to make the Moroccan couscous?

To make the couscous with seven vegetables (serving 10), follow the steps below:

Couscous preparation

  • 1 kg durum wheat couscous
  • 10 cl olive oil
  • 3 l water (1 l to water the couscous and 2 l to boil in the pot)
  • Salt

Place the couscous in a large dish. Salt and pour in the olive oil. Roll the couscous by hand. Drizzle the couscous with one cup of water. Mix and rub the grains between your hands to break up any lumps. Let rest for 5 minutes.
 
Pour 2 liters of water into the pot and bring to a boil. Transfer the couscous to the upper section of the couscoussière (steam basket) and place it on top of the bottom pot that contains boiling water. Cook 20 minutes until you see the steam coming up completely from the couscous. Remove the top of the couscoussière.
 
Pour the couscous into a wide dish. Separate the grains with oiled hands and add half of the remaining water and let it rest for 5 minutes. Put it back in the top of the couscoussier. Cook for 15 minutes. Pour into the dish, water and steam for the third time the couscous for 15 minutes. Separate the grains again. Let rest. Reserve.

Vegetables preparation

  • 700 g carrots
  • 800 g turnips
  • 600 g zucchini
  • 1 kg pumpkin
  • 450 g green cabbage
  • 160 g chickpeas
  • 600 g eggplants
  • 600 g bunch tomatoes
  • 300 g medium chili
  • 5 g powdered ginger
  • 30 cl olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Fine salt

Soak the chickpeas overnight and cook them in salted water for 2 hours. Drain the chickpeas and set aside. Peel the turnips and carrots. Cut them into 5 cm pieces. Round off the ends. Cut the eggplants into 5/2 cm sticks, keeping one side with skin. Remove the outer leaves of cabbage and cut into quarters. Peel and cut the pumpkin into a 3/3 cm cubes. Reserve all the vegetable trimmings. Wash the tomatoes, making sure to keep the calyxes. Keep the peppers whole.

Preparation of the broth

  • 1,5 l water
  • 150 g onion
  • 100 g tomatoes
  • ½ bbunch of flat parsley
  • ½ bunch of coriander
  • 80 g tomato paste
  • 3 g turmeric
  • 200 g carrots (trimmings)
  • 200 g turnips (trimmings)
  • 250 g zucchini (trimmings)
  • 2,5 g powdered ginger
  • 12,5 g fresh ginger
  • Fine salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Peel, wash and cut the tomatoes and onions in mirepoix. Use the parsley and coriander in a bouquet. In the lower part of the couscoussière, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Add spices, onions, fresh tomatoes. Sweat the whole without coloring. Add water then add all the vegetable trimmings. Bring to a boil. Cook over very low heat for 40 to 45 minutes. Sieve the broth. Set aside.

Vegetables cooking

Cook the vegetables separately in the broth. Remove each variety separately. Sieve the broth. Set aside.

Serving

Heat the vegetables and chickpeas in their slightly reduced broth. Pour the couscous into the couscoussière and heat for about ten minutes. Pour the couscous into a deep dish and season. Cut the butter into small pieces. Roll the couscous between your hands, gradually incorporating the butter. Serve the couscous in a dome shape in a very large dish placing the vegetables in the center alternating colors. Pour some broth sauce over the couscous. Serve a separate sauce bowls for additional garnish. Serve very hot.