Although it has three separate elements, this couscous recipe is a good choice for entertaining, because two of the three can be made ahead of time; only the couscous needs last-minute attention. And you can vary the ingredients to serve as few or as many guests as you like.
MEAT AND VEGETABLE BASE
¼-½ lb stewing lamb per person
1 large or 2 medium onions
olive oil for frying
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons turmeric
3 - 5 chili peppers
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
2 tsp. coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp. ground allspice (or a mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
at least 4 of your choice of the following vegetables: carrots, pumpkin, winter or summer squash, potatoes, turnips, leeks
1 oz. dried chickpeas per person, pre-soaked
1 large onion for every 2 people
pinch of salt
olive oil for frying
2 oz. dry couscous per person
The lamb stew can be made with different cuts of lamb - neck, breast, shoulder - as the bones and cartilage give more flavour and richness to the broth. Brown the meat and onions in enough hot olive oil to cover the bottom of a large stew pot. Add tomato paste, spices and water to cover. Let the mixture simmer for an hour before adding your choice of vegetables, which should be peeled and cut into large chunks. Root vegetables will take longest to cook, so add them first. Summer squash will only need about 15 minutes. Add more water if necessary, taste for seasonings, and cook until the vegetables are tender.
Simmer the chickpeas in plain water until tender - 2 hours or longer, depending on the peas. An alternative method is to cook them in your oven at its lowest setting for several hours. (If you are pressed for time, you can substitute canned chickpeas.) Slice the onions thinly, then salt and sauté them gently in olive oil until limp. Add a little of the broth from the lamb stew and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add drained chickpeas and cook for 20 more minutes.
Cook the couscous.
To assemble and serve: In a large bowl or deep platter, spread and fluff up the hot grain. Pour on broth from the stew until the couscous is lightly coated. Distribute the onion and chickpea mixture evenly over the surface. Then arrange the meat and vegetables in the center and sprinkle lightly with ground cloves or allspice. Serve more broth separately.
country : Libya
course : meat dish
source : The Africa News Cookbook : African Cooking for Western Kitchens / Tami Hultman