Giant couscous

Giant couscous

By
From
Moorish
Serves
4
Photographer
Mark Roper

Couscous, the daily diet of North Africa, is hugely popular in Western countries these days. This giant couscous is the Lebanese version – they call it moghrabieh (from the Maghreb). The semolina grains are much larger than the Moroccan version we are familiar with, and during cooking they swell almost to the size of small peas.

Greg found this recipe in a book called the Art of Lebanese Cooking by George Rayess, which is the Lebanese housewife’s bible! It has to be said that this is not a quick-cook dish. The moghrabieh need to be soaked first to remove some of the surface starch, then they are steamed or braised in a flavoursome broth for around 2 hours. But please don’t let that put you off. The result is an incredibly pleasing mound of little pea-sized balls, fragrant from their cooking liquor, and soft and squishy in the mouth. In our view, they are worth the time they take to cook, not just for the novelty value, but because they work really well as a starchy accompaniment to all kinds of grilled meats, fish or poultry, as well as braises and casseroles.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
500ml boiling water
200g moghrabieh
1 tablespoon olive oil
A pinch salt
A pinch Ras al hanout

Cooking stock

Quantity Ingredient
1 litre water
1 onion
1 small red chilli
1 cinnamon stick
saffron
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Ras al hanout
salt

Method

  1. Pour boiling water onto the moghrabieh, add the olive oil, salt and ras al hanout, and leave to stand for 10 minutes. Move the grains around from time to time so that they don’t stick and clump together.
  2. Fill the bottom of a steamer with 1 litre water, then add the aromatics. Put the moghrabieh into the top part of the steamer, cover and bring to the boil. Then lower the heat and steam for 2 hours over a medium flame. Check the water level every 30 minutes and top up with boiling water if necessary, and fork through the moghrabieh to keep it loose.
  3. At the end of the 2 hours, check the consistency of the moghrabieh, which should have doubled in size. Each grain should be distinct and separate, not sticky, and they should be soft and tender.
  4. Tip into a bowl and mix through the extra virgin olive oil, ras al hanout and salt to taste.
Tags:
Malouf
Greg
Lucy
Moorish
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