Tunisian couscous is a classic traditional dish that is comforting and flavorful. The couscous is steamed and served with meat, vegetables, and chickpeas.
I was first introduced to Tunisian cuisine when I got married. Tunisians love spicy food, or at least most of them do. Traditionally, couscous is made spicy. However, My husband and I do not like spicy food. Therefore, when making this recipe, I excluded red peppers and did not use any Harissa.
What is Couscous?
Couscous is granules of semolina that are steamed and served. It is a well-known dish in North Africa and is especially famous in Tunis, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, and Mauritania. Each country prepares couscous differently. In Tunis, the couscous is usually steamed and served with meat, vegetables, chickpeas and is typically spicy. The color of the couscous is generally orange to red depending on the amount of meat broth and harissa that is added to it.
What is Gluten-free Couscous?
Couscous is generally made of semolina. However, most gluten-free couscous on the market is made of corn instead.
Preparing the Vegetables:
The trickiest part of this recipe is preparing the vegetables. Therefore, here is a step-by-step guide on preparing the vegetables included in Tunisian Couscous.
Note: you can increase the number of vegetables in this recipe if you like.
Potatoes: You will need about two medium-sized potatoes. First, you will wash and peel the potatoes. Then cut the potatoes lengthwise in half. To prevent the potatoes from turning black while you prep the other ingredients, soak them in a bowl of cold water and salt.
Carrots: Wash and peel the carrots. Then cut them lengthwise in half.
Zucchini: Wash the zucchini and slice the ends. Then cut each zucchini lengthwise into quarters.
Pumpkin: I used a small pumpkin for this recipe. You will want to slice the pumpkin into quarters and remove the seeds. See the photo above for size reference. If you can’t find a pumpkin, you can substitute it with squash or kabocha instead.
Chilli Peper: Tunisian couscous is usually spicy and includes chili pepper or harissa. I have omitted the chili pepper. However, if you wish to use it, there is no need to prep it. You just add it to the pot as is.
How to make Tunisian Couscous
In a cooking pot over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and allow it to get hot. Then add the onions and garlic and seer for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent in color.
Then, add the beef fondue, paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt, pepper, and ground ginger. Seer the beef for 3-5 minutes to brown the sides of the meat.
Afterward, add all the vegetables, tomato paste and pour boiling water into the cooking pot until all the vegetables are covered in water. Next, cover the cooking pot with the lid and allow the pot to simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Now check the doneness of the vegetable. You can do this by inserting a fork into each vegetable. If the fork easily slides through the vegetable, it means it is cooked. Remove any cooked vegetable and set it aside for later.
Then, cook the meat for another 15 minutes and recheck on the remaining vegetables. Remove any cooked vegetables, add the chickpeas and cook the meat for another 15 minutes with the lid on. Once the meat is cooked, separate the meat and chickpeas from the chicken broth and set them aside for assembling.
Cooking The Couscous:
Cooking the couscous depends on the couscous brand you purchased. Read the package instructions to know how much liquid is needed to steam the couscous. Then, add meat broth equal to the liquid measurement written on the package in a cooking pot and bring it to a boil. Then, turn the heat off and add the couscous. Stir the couscous and immediately cover the cooking pot. Allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes without disturbing it. Then fluff the couscous using a fork to separate the granules.
For example, the couscous I bought indicated that for every 100 grams of couscous, I need to add 75 ml of liquid. I’m using 500 grams of couscous, so I added 375 ml of meat broth and bought it to boil. Then I turned the heat off and added the couscous. I stirred the couscous and covered the cooking pot. I waited 10 minutes before removing the lid and fluffing the couscous.
Assembling The Dish
Form a hill using the couscous. In the middle of the hill, add the meat, and decorate the sides with the cooked vegetables. Then add the chickpeas all over the couscous and serve while it is warm. On the side, serve the meat broth for individuals that would like to add more broth to their couscous.
More Dinner Recipes?
- Ground Beef Curry (Keema Matar)
- Mediterranean Spiced Rice with Ground Beef
- Quick and Easy Chicken Biryani
- Gluten-Free Meatballs Recipe
Tunisian Couscous with Meat and Vegetables
- 500 grams of Uncooked Gluten-Free Couscous
- 75 ml of Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Large Diced Red Onions
- 2 Cloves of Diced Garlic
- 400 grams of Beef Fondue
- ½ Tablespoon of Paprika
- ½ Tablespoon of Ground Coriander
- ½ teaspoon of Ground Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of Salt
- ½ teaspoon of Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Ground Ginger
- 2 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste
- 2 Medium Potatoes Peeled and Cut Lengthwise in Half
- 2 Carrots Peeled and Cut Lengthwise in Half
- 3 Zucchini Sliced Lengthwise into Quarters
- 4 Quarters of a Small Pumpkin
- ½ cup of Cooked and Drained Chickpeas
Preparing the Meat Broth & Vegetables:
- In a large cooking pot, over low-medium heat, add the virgin olive oil. Allow the olive oil to get hot, about one minute. Then add the diced red onions and garlic. Simmer the red onions and garlic over low-medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until the onions have become translucent in color.
- Next, add the beef fondue, paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt, black pepper, and ground ginger. Using a spatula, mix the ingredients. Allow the beef to cook for 3-4 minutes, occasionally stirring, to brown the sides.
- Then add the potatoes, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, and tomato paste.
- Immediately, pour boiling water on the vegetables until all the vegetables are covered in water. Using a wooden spatula, mix the ingredients. Then cover the cooking pot and let it simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove the lid, and check on each vegetable by inserting a fork. If the fork smoothly goes into the vegetable, it is cooked. If the vegetable is cooked, remove it and put it aside on a clean plate for later. You might find that the potatoes and pumpkin are cooked, but the carrots and zucchini are not.
- Afterward, cover the cooking pot again and allow it to simmer over low heat for another 15 minutes.
- Once 15 minutes have passed, recheck the vegetables using a fork. Remove the cooked vegetables, and set them aside for later.
- Add the chickpeas, stir, and cover the cooking pot. Let it simmer over low heat for another 15 minutes or unit the meat is cooked.
- Next, separate the meat and chickpeas from the meat broth and set aside the meat, chickpeas, and meat broth.
Making the Couscous
- Read the package instructions for the amount of liquid needed to steam the couscous.
- In a cooking pot, add meat broth equal to the liquid measurement indicated in the package. Bring the meat broth to boil, then turn off the heat. Immediately add the couscous and stir it. Then cover the cooking pot with the lid and allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes without distributing it.
- Then, using a fork, fluff the couscous to separate the granules.
Assembling the Dish:
- On a large serving plate, add the cooked couscous and shape the couscous into a hill. Note: Keep the remaining meat broth and serve it on the side for anyone who wishes to add more broth to their couscous.
- At the center of the couscous hill, add the meat. Then decorate the sides of the hill with the cooked potatoes, carrots, zucchini, and pumpkin. Then garnish the plate with the cooked chickpeas.
- Serve the couscous while it is warm, with the meat broth on the side for individuals who wish to add more broth to their couscous.
- Cook the couscous as per package instructions. Each couscous will have a different amount of liquid that needs to be added to it—adding more liquid than required will yield mushy couscous.
- Serving Tips: Serve the meat broth with the couscous on the side for anyone that wishes to add more broth to their couscous. Couscous is best served warm and on the same day.
- Storage: You can store the couscous in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to five days. Heat the couscous in the oven at 180°C ( 356°F) for 15-20 minutes or until warm and ready for serving.