Couscous is an ancient dish that is almost ubiquitous in North African countries. It is a well-known staple food in Algeria because many differences can be found in its ethnic preparation and production. The current work is based on a survey to determine the traditional couscous production scheme and describe how to prepare couscous dishes. The northeast region of Algeria has also established patterns of consumption.
Couscous is traditionally made from the hard part of durum wheat, which is the part of the grain that resists grinding. Sprinkle the semolina with water, knead it into small particles by hand, sprinkle with dry flour to separate them, and then sift. If any particles are too small to complete, the couscous particles are rolled up again through a sieve and sprinkled with dry semolina and rolled into particles. This laborious process continues until all the semolina is formed into small couscous particles. In the traditional method of making couscous, a group of people gather together, make them in large quantities within a few days, then dry them in the sun and use them for several months. Hand-made couscous may need to be rehydrated during preparation; this is done by moisturizing and steaming the stew until the couscous reaches the desired light, fluffy consistency.
¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed, divided
8 mutton chops, fat removed
4 chicken drumsticks
salt and ground black pepper to taste
3 onions, quartered
water (to cover)
2 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
3 potatoes, cut into chunks
3 turnips, cut into chunks
3 carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut into chunks
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons ras el hanout
1 (7 oz.) can chickpeas, drained
2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into chunks
5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
3 cups water
2 cups couscous
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons harissa
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the lamb chops and chicken thighs with salt and pepper; cook the onions in batches with hot oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate.
Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the brown bits. Return the lamb chops and chicken to the pot. Pour in enough water to cover; Add the turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer for 20 minutes.
Put the potatoes, radishes, and carrots in a pot and stir. Simmer and cover until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and ras el hanout; cook for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas, zucchini, and cilantro; continue cooking and cover until zucchini is soft about 5 minutes.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan; remove from the heat, add couscous and butter. Cover the pan and let it stand until the water is completely absorbed for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir the couscous with a fork and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Transfer to a plate.
Pour 2 tablespoons of the cooking liquid into a bowl; add harissa sauce until smooth.
Put the vegetables on the plate. Put the lamb and chicken on a separate plate. Serve with couscous, harissa sauce, and remaining cooking liquid in the pot.
In modern times, the production of couscous is mainly mechanized and the products are sold to markets around the world. This couscous can be fried first and then cooked with water or another liquid. Well-cooked couscous is light and fluffy, not sticky or harsh. Traditionally, North Africans used steamers. The base is a tall metal pot, shaped like an oil tank, in which meat and vegetables are simmered. At the top of the base, the steamer is placed where the couscous is to absorb the flavor of the stew. The edge of the steamer cover has holes so that steam can escape. Pots with steam inserts can also be used. If the holes are too large, cover the steamer with wet gauze. There is little archaeological evidence for early diets, including couscous, probably because the original couscous is probably made of organic materials and cannot be exposed to the elements for a long time.