This Moroccan couscous recipe is very simple but full-flavoured and impressive. It is a dish that never goes without enthusiastic comment if I serve it to guests. Usually I like to eat it with a spicy sweet vegetable tagine but it works very well served as it is - at room temperature - as a salad.
The key ingredient is harissa - a rich, smoky and spicy North African paste that is widely used throughout Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya. You could substitute another chili paste but you would be making a different dish entirely.
Harissa is a uniquely intense smoky chili paste with a deep colour and a hint of citrus flavour. You'll find it in a humble can, tube or glass jar in Middle Eastern shops or delis. If you can't find it, there are plenty of options online or you could try your hand at making your own. (Actually I regularly buy it but I also like to make it when I get the notion. It's well worth the few minutes preparation time. I promise to share an excellent harissa recipe here very soon.)
180g/1 cup of couscous
240ml/1 cup of hot water*
1 teaspoon of harissa paste
30g/¼ stick of butter
50g (about 5 tablespoons) of whole blanched almonds
50g (5 tablespoons) of pine nuts
1 tablespoon of chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander or cilantro
1. Put the couscous in a large dish. Mix the water and harissa paste together in a jug and pour the mixture over the couscous. Leave to stand for 5-10 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed.
2. When it is ready, fluff up the couscous with a fork.
3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the almonds for 2 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and fry for a further 1-2 minutes until the pine nuts are starting to brown. Remove from the heat. Season and stir in the herbs. Scatter over the nuts and your Moroccan couscous is ready to eat.
Serve it with a vegetable tagine or at room temperature as a salad.
Because couscous is actually a processed food much like a pasta, brands can vary so follow the packet instructions for the amount of water to use if it's different to what I've recommended. If you'd like to learn more, read my guide on how to cook couscous.