Couscous aux Sept Légumes
(Moroccan couscous with seven vegetables)
This straightforward couscous dish is one of the most popular in Morocco and the rest of the Maghreb. Seven is considered a lucky number, and while the vegetables may vary from family to family, town to town and season to season, the number used is constant.
A great vegetarian dish, you can add meat if you like. Known as seksu bil khodra in Algeria.
4 to 6 servings
- Butter or oil -- 1/4 cup
- Onions, chopped -- 2 onions
- Ground ginger -- 2 teaspoons
- Ground cumin -- 2 teaspoons
- Ground coriander -- 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric -- 1/2 teaspoon
- Tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped -- 2 cups
- Carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks -- 4
- Turnips, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks -- 2
- Cabbage, chopped into 1-inch pieces -- 1/2 head
- Zucchini, chopped into 1-inch chunks -- 2
- Pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks -- 1 pound
- Chickpeas, drained -- 1 (15-ounce) can
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
- Couscous -- 1 (1-pound) package
- Heat the butter or oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions and saute until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the ginger, cumin, coriander and turmeric and saute for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes to reduce the liquid somewhat. Then add the carrots, turnips, cabbage and about 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the zucchini, pumpkin, chickpeas, salt and pepper and bring back to a simmer. Cover and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your couscous according to package directions or following this recipe.
- Remove the vegetables from heat, stir in the cilantro and adjust seasoning to taste. Pile the prepared couscous in a large serving dish. Use a slotted spoon to arrange the vegetables nicely around the couscous. Pour the juices around the dish and serve immediately.
Couscous aux Sept Légumes Variations
- With Meat: Many recipes for this dish add lamb or beef. Use about 1 1/2 pounds of stewing lamb or beef chunks or try lamb shanks. Brown them first in the butter and set them aside. Saute the onions and stir in the spices and tomatoes as directed, Then return the meat to the dish, along with the 2 cups of water. Simmer, covered for about an hour to give the meat a head start. Then add the carrots, turnips and cabbage and proceed with the recipe.
- Other Vegetables: Potatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, celery. Add a handful of raisins toward the end. Stir in some chopped parsley.
- Spices: Try adding harissa, ras el hanout, paprika, chile pepper flakes, saffron.