A few years ago, before baby and marriage, I took a trip to Morocco with my mother in which we traveled around various parts of the country with an adventure tour group. Morocco is a fun place to visit because it is fairly exotic and interesting, and yet touristed to the extent that it’s easy to get around and there’s plenty to do. In addition to eating, I enjoyed shopping, and even the haggling over prices started to become enjoyable.
As you may know, one of the food staples in Morocco is couscous. Whether we were eating at a nice restaurant, or in a road-side stop between cities, we were usually offered couscous. The term refers both to the semolina-pasta itself as well as the final dish, usually served with some sort of stew-like mixture on top of the pasta.
When I first returned from this trip I found myself making couscous a couple times a week but, over the years that have expired since, it’s subsided to my periphery and I seldom even remember it exists. I came across photos from the trip recently and this lead me to recall some food memories. I found some couscous in the cupboard and set out to make a dish that could include left-over roasted chicken as well as the kale I got in my CSA share this week. Although couscous itself cooks very quickly, I used a rice cooker to start it before I began making the “stew” that would go on top. Unlike rice, couscous doesn’t taste as good if you just cook it with water, so I cooked it with chicken stock and added about a tablespoon of butter.
Below are the ingredients I added to the stew:
onions (cooked until somewhat soft before adding anything else)
one can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans
one clove garlic, roughly chopped
about 4-5 leaves of kale, stripped off the stems and cut in to half inch pieces
leftover, chopped up roasted chicken (mostly dark meat)
half cup raisins (soaked in very hot water first)
about 1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
The longer I cooked this mixture the more stew-like and tasty it became. I was delighted to discover that my toddler loved the couscous (especially since it’s so easy and quick to make), although she was more skeptical about the stew we put on top. It ended up being pretty vegetable-heavy, but since the kale was so fresh and delicious, my husband and I were able to enjoy the overall effect. In Morocco, couscous dishes are often served in a tagine, which is a ceramic plate with a large lid and the whole thing came out of the oven in the restaurants we visited with a flair of drama. The drama was not in my kitchen tonight when I made my version of couscous, but the enthusiasm for something different and new was.