With a tear in his eye he said, “take a picture of me while I stir the sauce so my mom will know that I am OK” And with that Omar showed me the finer points of creating Couscous, Algerian style. The knowledge I gained that day was not just food, it was history, heartache and longing for a better life, couscous was the carrier of a man’s identity within a culture.
That is why I enjoy food. The sights the smells and taste transport a person to places in your mind, happy places and safe places. For Omar it was home and his mother’s kitchen. Happy times before heartache and suffering.
Food transcends culture and when you allow yourself to experience food with another person you gain an intimate understanding of someone, despite a cultural and language barrier. So with that in mind here is Omar’s couscous.
What you need for 4-6 people
- 1/2 kilo of beef cubed
- 1/2 kilo couscous (should be available at most grocery stores)
- 3 carrots cut same size as beef
- 2 medium potatoes cubed
- 2 medium zucchini cut same size as above
- 2 small eggplant cut as above (or 1 normal sized)
- 1 cup green beens cut about 3″ long
- 1 cup green onions rough chop
- 1 cup cubed squash (opional)
- 2 small cans tomato paste
- 1 good sized handful coriander seeds crushed
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns crushed
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- Pinch or more of crushed chillies
- Olive oil (for browning and coating the couscous)
- Handful of rough chopped parsley (for garnish)
How it’s done:
- In a cup or two of warm water dissolve tomato paste.
- Mix in coriander, peppercorns, turmeric, chillies and set aside.
- In a good sized pot brown onions and beef in a little oil.
- Add tomato spice mixture and stir in all the vegetables.
- Add enough water to cover and simmer for at least an hour.
- When your stew is done place the couscous in bowl.
- Drizzle a little olive oil over the couscous and mix it well making sure all the grains are coated.
- Add 1 cup of liquid from the cooked stew and 1 cup of boiling water.
- Wait 5 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and fluff the couscous with a fork.
- Transfer couscous to a large platter or plate.
- Arrange meat and vegetables on top of the couscous drizzling a little of the liquid over the platter.
- Garnish with parsley and serve.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did!