Moroccan Couscous With Meat and Seven Vegetables

Moroccan Couscous With Meat and Seven Vegetables

 Jan Greune / LOOK / Getty Images

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
563 Calories
27g Fat
70g Carbs
15g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 563
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 34%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 24mg 8%
Sodium 3020mg 131%
Total Carbohydrate 70g 26%
Dietary Fiber 12g 44%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 15g
Vitamin C 67mg 333%
Calcium 158mg 12%
Iron 3mg 17%
Potassium 1498mg 32%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This outstanding recipe for classic Casablanca-style couscous features steamed couscous piled high with stewed meat and vegetables. (You can omit the meat for a vegetarian couscous.) Feel free to vary the vegetables to your family's preferences, but try to include a full variety to achieve an authentically flavored sauce. It's become increasingly popular in recent years to garnish this dish with a generous topping of tfaya, a caramelized onion and raisin mixture that can also adorn couscous all on its own.

If you've never used a couscoussier, a traditional steamer used to make couscous, it is not difficult to learn ​how to use. Just be prepared to steam the couscous three times, about 15 minutes each. If you choose to use chicken as the meat, an organic, free-range bird works best due to the long cooking time.


For the Meat:

  • 1 kilogram (about 2 1/4 pounds) bone-in lamb or beef, cut into large pieces, or 1 whole chicken

  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

  • 3 medium tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant

  • 2 1/2 liters (about 2 1/2 quarts) water

  • 1 handful fresh parsley and cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet

  • 1/4 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight

For the Couscous:

  • 1 kilogram (about 2 1/4 pounds) dry couscous (not instant)

  • 60 milliliters (about 1/4 cup) vegetable oil

  • Water, as needed

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

For the Vegetables:

  • 1/2 small cabbage, cut into 2 or 3 wedges

  • 3 to 4 medium turnips, peeled and halved crosswise

  • 10 medium carrots, peeled and halved

  • 1 to 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and quartered

  • 2 small onions, whole or halved

  • 1/2 cup fresh fava beans, optional

  • 1 to 2 jalapeño or chili peppers, optional

  • 1 small acorn squash, quartered, or a small pumpkin cut into 3-inch pieces

  • 4 to 5 small zucchini, ends removed and halved

  • 2 to 3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and halved, optional

Steps to Make It

Make the Meat

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Mix the meat, onion, tomatoes, oil, and spices in the bottom of a couscoussier. Cook uncovered over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the meat is browned and the onions and tomatoes have formed a thick sauce.

  3. Add the water, the parsley/cilantro bouquet, and the chickpeas, if using. Cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer rapidly for 25 to 30 minutes. (If omitting both meat and chickpeas, simmer for just a few minutes.)

First Steaming of Couscous

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. While the meat is cooking, get the couscous ready for its first steaming. Oil the steamer basket and set it aside. Empty the dry couscous into a very large bowl, and work in the vegetable oil with your hands, tossing the couscous and rubbing it between your palms. (This will help prevent the couscous grains from clumping together.)

  3. Work in 1 cup of water in the same manner, using your hands to evenly distribute the liquid into the couscous. Transfer the couscous to the oiled steamer basket.

  4. Add the cabbage to the meat mixture, and place the steamer basket on top (seal the joint if necessary). Once you see steam rising from the couscous, steam the couscous for 15 minutes.

  5. Pour the couscous back into the large bowl and break it apart.

  6. When the couscous has cooled enough to handle, gradually work in 2 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt with your hands. Again, toss the couscous and rub it between your palms to break up any balls or clumps. Transfer the couscous back into the steamer, taking care not to pack or compress the couscous.

Second Steaming of Couscous

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Add the turnips, carrots, tomatoes, onions, and fava beans (if using) to the pot. Place the steamer basket on top of the couscoussier (seal the joint if necessary), and steam the couscous a second time for 15 minutes, timing from when you see the steam rising from the couscous.

  3. Once the couscous has steamed for 15 to 20 minutes, turn it out into the large bowl again. Break it apart, and let cool a few minutes.

  4. If you're serving the couscous with jalapeño peppers, simmer the peppers, covered, in a half-ladle of broth and a little water, for about 40 minutes, or until the jalapeños are tender. (The peppers are typically placed on top of the couscous, and small pieces may be broken off as a condiment.)

Third Steaming of Couscous

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Gradually work 3 cups of water into the couscous with your hands, tossing it and rubbing the grains between your palms. Taste the couscous, and add a little salt if desired.

  3. Transfer about half of the couscous to the steamer basket. Again, try to handle the couscous lightly and avoid packing it into the steamer.

  4. Add the squash, zucchini, and sweet potatoes, if using, to the couscoussier, and place the steamer basket on top. (Again, seal the joint if necessary.)

  5. When you see the steam rise through the couscous, carefully add the remaining couscous to the steamer. Continue cooking, watching for the steam to rise from the couscous. Allow the couscous to steam for a full 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, all of the vegetables should be cooked. Test the vegetables to be sure, cooking longer if necessary. Taste the broth—it should be salty and peppery—and adjust the seasoning if desired.

Serving the Couscous and Vegetables

  1. Empty the couscous into the large bowl, and break it apart. Mix in the 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 ladles of broth.

  2. To serve the couscous, shape it into a mound with a well in the center. Put the meat into the well, and arrange the vegetables on top and all around. Distribute the broth evenly over the couscous and vegetables, reserving one or two bowlfuls to offer on the side for those who prefer more.


If you see steam escaping from between the basket and couscoussier, you'll need to seal the joint. You can do this in several ways: wrap and tie a long piece of a damp cloth over the joint, tightly wrap a long piece of kitchen plastic film around the joint, or wrap and drape a long piece of kitchen plastic film onto the rim of the couscoussier, and then place the basket on top.