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Moroccan mutton couscous recipe

Moroccan mutton couscous recipe

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  • Ingredients
  • Pasta
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  • Couscous

A gorgeous Moroccan couscous dish of mutton and vegetables, flavoured with ras-el-hanout and saffron. If you don't have a couscous steamer, make the couscous separately according to packet instructions.

6 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1kg mutton shoulder, chopped into pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained
  • 150g tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon ras-el-hanout
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 turnips, quartered
  • 4 carrots, cut into thick slices
  • 4 courgettes, cut into thick slices
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1kg medium couscous
  • 150g butter, softened

MethodPrep:35min ›Cook:1hr15min ›Ready in:1hr50min

  1. Heat the oil in a large casserole over medium high heat. Add the mutton and brown on all sides. Add the tomatoes, onion, chickpeas, tomato paste, ras-el-hanout, saffron, salt and pepper. Add 1.5 litres of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the couscous in a large bowl. Add 350ml of water and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a couscous steamer. Place the turnips, carrots, courgettes and celery in the pot, then top with the couscous steamer and continue cooking for 45 minutes, counting from the time the steam starts to escape.
  3. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl, add the butter, mix well and fluff with a fork. Serve with the mutton.

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Moroccan sweet couscous

With a brilliant blue sky and deep Prussian blue sea dotted with exotic landscapes, Mediterranean region is as vibrant as its cuisine which has evolved through ages and has been greatly influenced by the Arabs who introduced many things here from spices to fruits and nuts. Morocco sitting atop in one corner of west North Africa, offers perhaps the most exotic cuisine of the region.

When it comes to Morocco, the exotic lamb tagine with dried figs comes first in the mind, but other dishes are slowly crossing the vast Mediterranean sea to get noticed in the world outside the region, couscous is being one of them. Because of its ease of preparation and its power to absorb range of flavors, it becomes one of the most popular and most loved Moroccan dish.

Couscous is much like pasta processed from semolina and coated with wheat flour is a staple in many North African countries including Algeria and Tunisia and in other parts of the Mediterranean region it slowly acquiring the traditional status. Couscous is generally cooked with some vegetables and meats in a mild flavored stews or broths and with a slight variation of spices, it can easily be adapted to suit the Indian palate.

As you hop across the countries of Mediterranean region, the couscous changed its flavors many times, sometimes got spicier with harissa as in Tunisia and sometimes it is also served as dessert topped with cream as in Egypt and this sweet version of couscous takes a new avatar in Morocco and Algeria, where this delicacy is also known as “ seffa” and is a traditional Moroccan Hanukkah dish.

On a festive morning, start your day with this healthy and nutritious sweet delicacy or enjoy it after meals as a dessert, this sweet couscous is bound to surprise you and you will loved every bit of it.


  1. For lamb stew
    • 2 lb boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3 large onions, thinly sliced
    • 8 large tomatoes (4 1/2 lb), peeled, quartered, and seeded
    • 4 cups canned tomato juice
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 fresh habanero or cayenne chile, finely chopped, including seeds
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
    • 1 bay leaf (not California)
    • Pinch of saffron threads
    • 4 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
    • 4 turnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-wide wedges
    • 3 red or green bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    • 1 lb pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 1 1/2 lb zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1 1/2 inches thick
    • 1 (19-oz) can chickpeas (about 2 cups), rinsed, drained, and skins slipped off
  2. For spicy tomato sauce
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1 tablespoon crushed dried rose petals (pesticide-free optional)*
    • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  3. For couscous
    • 4 cups water
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 (10-oz) boxes quick-cooking couscous (3 1/2 cups)

What Is Moroccan Couscous? (with pictures)

Moroccan couscous consists of specially formed, fine-grained semolina that has been steamed before being served in a mound with vegetables and meat on top. Semolina grains used in Moroccan couscous are smaller than those in couscous from other regions. The dish is traditionally cooked all at once in a special kind of steamer pot called a couscoussier, with the couscous in the top and the other ingredients in the bottom. This variety of couscous has been made for hundreds of years, during which time the basic recipe has not changed. This meal remains an important part of Moroccan cuisine.

"Couscous" is the name given to grains of semolina that have been rolled in flour until they are large enough to properly cook and eat. It is cooked in water or steamed. The exact origins of couscous are unclear, but most references point to a Western or Northern African origin. As the popularity of couscous spread across the world, different types and sizes emerged. Israeli couscous, a baked pasta-like food, is different from most other couscous.

The most authentic way to cook Moroccan couscous is to use a special pot called a couscoussier. This two-tiered pot holds liquid in the lower level and the couscous steams in the upper portion. The Moroccan variety of couscous is steamed over broth, a deviation from how other types of couscous are made by adding water directly to the grains.

Another traditional cooking technique used when making Moroccan couscous is to put the meat and vegetables for the dish into the bottom part of the couscoussier. They are braised and then cooked with water or stock. The couscous is placed in the top half of the pan and steamed while the rest of the food cooks underneath. This imparts a very rich flavor into the grains.

A key element of the cuisine of the region, and a key element of Moroccan couscous, is the mix of spices that are added to the meal. Morocco traditionally was a center for trade with a wealth of spices from around the world to use in cooking. These spices would often be combined into mixtures that were as individual as the people who were creating them. Cumin, paprika and turmeric are the basic spices for Moroccan couscous, but spices such as anise or coriander could be added, as well.

The meat potion of the dish could be nearly anything. Some recipes call for mutton and others call for chicken or pork. Couscous has a subtle flavor and will take on the character of the meat over which it is steamed. Moroccan couscous does not have to have a meat component and can easily be made with only vegetables steamed under the grains.

Ingredients of Moroccan Mushroom Couscous Salad

  • 200 gm chickpeas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds ground
  • 1 teaspoon virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper powder
  • 200 gm couscous
  • 50 gm apricots
  • 200 gm mushroom chanterelle
  • water as required
  • 1 onion
  • 2 teaspoon honey
  • salt as required
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 50 gm sultanas
  • 1 handful chopped parsley
  • 150 gm chopped tomato

How to make Moroccan Mushroom Couscous Salad

Step 1 Wash and chop the veggies

Soak the chickpeas overnight. Boil the chickpeas with some salt and water, keep them aside. In the meantime, wash and chop the veggies. Dice the onions and mushrooms. Put a large frying pan on medium flame and then add oil to it. Add cinnamon, cumin and mushrooms after lightly sauteing the onions.

Step 2 Toss the veggies

Once the mixture is on heat for 3-4 minutes, add the tomatoes, drained chickpeas and honey. Let it simmer until the mushrooms turn softer. Remove from flame and keep it aside.

Step 3 Mix the apricots with salt and pepper

In a bowl, add the sultanas and apricot. For seasoning, add salt and pepper. In a different bowl, add the couscous and fill the bowl with boiling water.

Step 4 Drain the excess water

Once the couscous is fluffed up. drain the excess water, mix it with a handful of finely chopped parsley.

Step 5 Mix well and indulge in the goodness!

Combine everything together, add the couscous to the mixture of the mushrooms along with apricots mixture and give it a nice stir. Your Moroccan Mushroom Couscous Salad is ready.

Lamb tagine recipes

Tuck into a fragrant Morroccan-style stew with our selection of lamb tagine recipes. Full of rich spices, this slow-cook dish is best served with couscous.

Lamb, squash & apricot tagine

A Moroccan mainstay, this slow-cooked casserole is flavoured with coriander and ras-el-hanout spices

Slow cooker lamb tagine

Cook something hearty and exotic for the family when it's cold outside, like our lamb tagine. If you can't get dried cherries, use apricots or prunes instead

Persian lamb tagine

This warming stew is spiced with cinnamon and cumin, and sweetened with apricots and dates - perfect with fluffy couscous

Fruity lamb tagine

This succulent and superhealthy one-pot is guaranteed to satisfy a crowd - save time and make it up to two days ahead

Lamb, apricot & shallot tagine

Adapted from the Moroccan roast lamb fish 'mechoui', this slow-cooked dish has an aromatic marinade and irresistably fruity sauce

Lamb tagine with dates & sweet potatoes

This is one of those wonderful dishes that improves with keeping

Lamb & apricot stew

A fruity and warming Middle Eastern tagine to be served with couscous and herbs - a speedy casserole with plenty of flavour

Family meals: Easy lamb tagine

Sweet juicy apricots and tender butternut squash are a winner with kids and make for a delicious Middle Eastern family meal for toddlers through to teens and beyond

Lamb & cranberry tagine

This is a fragrant onepot that lets your oven do all the hard work. If you're Christmas entertaining, serve up this succulent lamb with couscous and yogurt


Beef- 1. Soak wooden skewers for 20min. 2. Grind coriander, mint, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, powdered spices, olive oil and onion. 3. Pour this over steak cubes and leave to marinate in fridge for 3-4 hours. 4. Preheat oven to 200°C. 5. Place the skewers on a greased tray. Pour marinade over. 6. Grill in oven, turning over now and then, till beef is done to your liking. Remove and cover.
Couscous- 1. Whilst the beef is cooking, place the water for the couscous in an ovenproof casserole dish with a lid. 2. Mix the curry powder, salt and pepper into the water. 3. Whisk the couscous into the water. Let the couscous stand, with lid on, for 10 minutes to absorb the water. 4. When beef is done, after removing, do not switch the oven off, leave it heated at 200°C. 5. Pour half of the olive oil into the couscous and mix in with a spoon. 6. Place the casserole into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. 7. Remove the casserole from the oven and pour the rest of the oil into the couscous. Mix with spoon, work the oil through the couscous, breaking up any clumps.
Raita- 1. Rinse and grate cucumber. 2. Grind chillies, mint, coriander, salt and jeeroo. 3. Mix green paste into yoghurt with grated cucumber.
Carrots- 1. Either cut carrots into even sized batons or into rounds. 2. Toss with all ingredients and place on a greased oven tray. 3. Roast in oven until tender, turning over when cooking. 4. When done, garnish with pomegranate, pine nuts and pistachio.
Assembly- Spoon down couscous, drizzle on some raita, spoon on roasted carrots and place over beef kebabs.

Make a savory lamb broth:

  • In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the olive oil with the onions, spices, salt, and garlic mix well.
  • Heat the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Season the shanks with salt and pepper and brown them on all sides (in batches, if necessary). Reduce the heat to medium and add the seasoned onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until the spices release their flavors and aromas, about 5 minutes.

Make the harissa:

  • Coarsely chop the roasted peppers and put them in a blender. Add the chiles (but not the seeds), garlic, cumin, coriander, and salt. With the blender running, pour in the olive oil in a stream until the mixture becomes smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer the harissa to a bowl and stir in the chile seeds.

Prepare to steam the couscous:

  • In a medium bowl, mix the flour and water to make a thin paste set aside. Cut a three-inch-wide strip of cheesecloth long enough to wrap twice around the rim of your couscoussière (a colander that rests snugly over a stockpot can stand in for a couscoussière).
  • Put the couscous in a very large bowl or a roasting pan. Cover the grains with cold water, swishing to remove the starch. Drain immediately. Let the couscous rest for 5 minutes.

Steam and fluff the couscous:

  • Set the colander over the simmering water. Sprinkle the couscous into the colander (or the couscoussière steamer) without pressing on the grains.

To finish the dish:

  • After fluffing the couscous a second time, return it to the couscoussière and steam for a third and final time. Dump the couscous into the large bowl or pan and break up clumps with a spoon. Stir in the chickpeas, raisins, cinnamon, and butter. When the couscous is cool enough to touch, moisten and season the grains with about 1 cup of the lamb broth, using the same rubbing technique as before.
  • Heap the couscous on a platter. Clear a hole in the center by pushing the grains toward the perimeter. With a slotted spoon, arrange the lamb and vegetables in the center, leaving some of them in the broth. Serve with the harissa, the caramelized onions, and individual bowls of broth, which people can sprinkle on their couscous to their taste.

Recipe Notes

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Moroccan-style Spicy Mutton Stew

I’ve resisted the urge to call this Moroccan-style mutton stew a tagine. As you’re probably aware, that name comes from the conical pot it’s traditionally slow-cooked in. However, my spicy mutton stew isn’t cooked in a tagine and, you might be surprised to learn, it’s not slow-cooked either.

Whatever you want to call it, there’s no doubt spicy mutton stew is delicious. Chunks of rich mutton in a spicy, warming rather than hot sauce, enlivened with the tang of lemon and slightly sweet from pitted prunes and pomegranate molasses. Fried almonds and sesame seeds on top give the dish a satisfying crunch.

Served with lots of fresh, vegetable-based accompaniments, this stew is a wonderful treat that should tempt anyone, even those a little wary of mutton.

Jump to Recipe

I advise making this stew the day before you want to eat it. That’s because mutton contains a fair amount of fat and, although I’m not fat-phobic, I think it’s better to leave it to go completely cold so you can take off the top layer of hardened fat. They’ll still be plenty of fat in the stew to give it a lovely rich taste.

This stew freezes well so it’s worth making a large batch and freezing any leftovers.

What’s the difference between mutton and lamb?

Mutton comes from sheep which are older than those slaughtered for lamb. Most lamb in Britain is from animals only four to six months old whereas sheep slaughtered for mutton will be at least two years old. In-between is hogget which is from one-year old animals.

As in many things, maturity brings flavour and that’s what you get with mutton. I’ve heard some people describe it as ‘gamey’ but I don’t think that’s entirely correct.

Mutton has a full, meaty flavour, yes, but with absolutely none of the ‘whiffyness’ you might associate with strong game if you’re not mad keen on such things.

A mutton renaissance?

Mutton is not popular in the UK and for many years the only place I could get it, when I lived in Leicester, was from halal butchers who would mince up on request chunks of meat, half lamb and half mutton, which we made into a wonderful shepherd’s pie.

Now, with the surge in farmers markets and the ability to buy quality meat online, mutton is certainly more available and I’d love to see more people cooking with it and it appearing on lots of restaurant menus.

I currently source my mutton at farmer’s markets just over the border in Cheshire at the Treacle Market in Macclesfield and at Rode Hall Farmers Market from Cheshire Lamb & Mutton.

If you want to buy online then you could try Chestnut Meats, also in Cheshire. I haven’t eaten their mutton, but I’ve bought their goat meat from farmer’s markets and it’s very good. If anyone knows of mutton suppliers in Staffordshire, then it would be great if you could let me know.

Mutton Renaissance is a campaign aiming to increase the popularity of mutton but it seems there’s still a lot of work to do to get mutton back on the tables of Britain.

Cook on the stove, in the oven, pressure cook or slow cook? I love the Instant Pot

For all meat stews that would otherwise require long and slow cooking, these days I use an electric pressure cooker, an Instant Pot to be exact.

But if you want to make my recipe you don’t necessarily need one as it can also be made in a slow cooker, a pan on the stove or a casserole in the oven. Just amend the cooking times accordingly and keep an eye on it, if necessary adding more water so the stew doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot or go dry.

Mutton is a great candidate for pressure cooking or slow cooking and stands up to the rich spicing of this Moroccan-style stew excellently.

Moroccan-style Spicy Mutton Stew

For this recipe, I used two bone-in joints of mutton weighing about 1.2 kg in total. After trimming off excess fat and removing the bones this left a little under 900 grams of meat.

I didn’t throw the bones away though, as they can be added to the stew to give more flavour to the stock and, besides being a shame to waste any part of an animal after it’s been killed for our use, they do make a nice reward for the cook to pick at later.

I used joints as that’s what I happened to have, but you can use boneless chunks or bone-in chunks.

After cutting the meat into pieces about 4 cm square, I dusted them with generous amounts of spices. Cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, paprika, cinnamon, ground ginger, chilli flakes, salt and pepper.

I browned the meat in some olive oil, using the sauté function on my Instant Pot, removed it to a plate then softened chopped onion and sliced garlic in the same oil for about 12 minutes. I returned the meat to the pot, including the juices that had come out.

The rest of the ingredients, apart from any garnish, are all added at once. These include tomato puree, chopped preserved lemon peel (substitute grated lemon zest if you don’t have preserved lemons), pitted prunes, apricots or dates, and a few threads of saffron that have been steeped in hot water.

I add a little sweetener to taste (ideally pomegranate molasses but honey or sugar is fine) plus chicken stock water. Give everything a good stir.

If using an Instant Pot , put the lid on, press the Meat/Stew button which will set the timer automatically to 35 minutes and that’s all you need to do for now. For slow cookers, follow your manufacturer’s instructions. If cooking on the stove or in the oven bring the stew to a boil then simmer gently until the meat is soft and melting (about 1 – 2 hours), making sure the pot doesn’t boil dry by adding more water if necessary.

When the meat is cooked, after checking the seasoning, I’d advise cooling it and putting in the fridge overnight. For Instant Potters, let the pressure release naturally then cool and refrigerate in a suitable container.

The next day, after removing the layer of fat, I gently reheat the stew until piping hot either in a saucepan or 10 minutes on manual in the Instant Pot.


To serve, I like to stir in some chopped coriander leaf and garnish it with almonds and sesame seeds that have been browned in a little olive oil, plus more coriander.

Moroccan tagines are traditionally served with couscous, but I prefer the chew of brown basmati rice so served this one with my Rice with Peas, Broad Beans, Griddled Artichoke Hearts & Mint .

Here’s there’s also a green salad and a dollop of my Smoky & Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Hummus .

All together, I think this makes a fantastic meal.

Moroccan-style Spicy Mutton Stew is proof positive that mutton deserves a place on many more tables in homes and restaurants across Britain.

Stainless Steel Couscousiers:

Stainless steel is a well-known material when it comes to kitchen utensils. It is therefore quite natural that I recommend you to choose this material in your quest for the best couscoussier that meets your needs.

Personally, I only use stainless steel couscoussiers and therefore I only buy this type of model. Why? For all the advantages that this material provides and they are numerous. What are they? I tell you everything in this complete article dedicated to the stainless steel couscoussier. And to avoid you searching all over the web for quality stainless steel couscoussiers, I have chosen 4 models among several that I had in my hands.

Stainless steel in detail:

To begin, here is some info about stainless steel. It is in fact an iron alloy to which chrome is added. The stainless steel couscoussier can be used on induction because it contains iron. That’s it for the small precision.

You will see on some descriptions written “stainless steel 18/10”. In this case, the alloy is composed of 72% iron, 18% chrome and 10% nickel. I advise you to choose this type of alloy because it is strong, more resistant and offers a healthy cooking.

You will often see in the description: stainless steel couscoussier. Don’t worry, it’s stainless steel!

The advantages of a stainless steel couscoussier:

If I advise you to choose a stainless steel couscoussier, it is because its advantages are numerous and they seduced me.

For example, I can guarantee you that stainless steel is a very resistant material in time. Its lifespan? About 25 years. Not bad, right? Most manufacturers even offer a lifetime warranty. That’s how much confidence they have in stainless steel.

Stainless steel ensures even heat distribution. So not only is the food well cooked and stays soft, but cooking is much faster with this type of material. And since the cooking is fast, you save energy. Great!

Stainless steel is a non-stick material. So your food won’t stick to your couscous maker. And as you can imagine, it makes cleaning much easier. Since it doesn’t stick, you don’t need to use any fat. Personally, I don’t use any as it is a steamer but maybe you do.

Stainless steel is aesthetic material. This point is not essential for some people but I like my couscoussier to be beautiful in addition to being efficient and of great quality.

My stainless steel couscoussiers:

As I already told you, stainless steel is an excellent material for me and that’s why I don’t hesitate to recommend stainless steel couscoussier. Among those I tested, 4 stand out and not only because they are made of stainless steel.

In my favorites, I present you the Crealys 502280 couscoussier, the Beka 12030244 model, its colleague the Beka 12230024 and finally, the Hora couscoussier.

To summarize:

Choosing a stainless steel couscoussier is the guarantee to have a high-quality model, robust and durable over time, which offers homogeneous cooking and which is aesthetically top! Now that this material has no more secrets for you, all you have to do is buy the couscoussier that will make you and your guests happy.

My opinion on the Couscoussier Electric Couscook:

When we want and look for a couscoussier, we mostly see those big grey pots that we put on our cooking plate. But recently, a new kind of couscous cooker has arrived on the market: the electric couscous cooker. Thomson offers us the first model of this type: the Couscook.

As a fan of classic stainless steel couscous cookers, I admit that I was quite intrigued by this couscous cooker. I first inquired about it, but there are different opinions about this Thomson Couscook. And as you are never better served than by yourself and I like to make my own idea, I bought this Thomson electric couscoussier. After a few weeks of intensive use, it’s time for me to give you my impressions on this Thomson Couscook model.

The Thomson Couscook electric couscoussier in details:

This couscous cooker is equipped with a power of 1600 watts and thus offers a fast cooking. Its capacity is 5.2 liters and it has in addition an accessory of steam cooking of 4.5 liters. It allows you to cook for 6 to 8 people.

This couscoussier Thomson Couscook has a timer that allows you to program the cooking time up to 120 minutes and a thermostat with 3 possible cooking levels depending on the food you are cooking. Its keep warm function is very practical to enjoy your couscous or tagine at the right temperature.

A sound signal tells you when the cooking is finished. Don’t worry about overcooking your food with this appliance because it has an automatic stop at the end of cooking. It is made of aluminum and has a non-stick coating for fat-free cooking. It comes with a recipe book which is very practical as you are not used to cooking couscous or other dishes with this type of appliance.

What I think of this Thomson Couscooker:

So like everyone else I am quite divided on this model. It has some advantages and some disadvantages that it’s best to know about before jumping into buying the Thomson Couscook.

On the plus side, I like its versatility. You can make a whole bunch of preparations other than couscous. You can make tagines, cook rice, simmer meat or steam vegetables. And the recipe book that comes with it is very practical to innovate.

Its thermostat, its timer and its hot hold is something new in the couscoussiers and personally I like these features because they are very practical.

As for the disadvantages, I would say that it is a rather imposing appliance whether on the work surface or on a table. I also regret that its electric wire does not have a storage.

The price is also quite high, especially compared to the classic couscoussiers. Its advantages probably justify this price.

To summarize, I would say that this electric couscoussier is suitable for those who are looking for a multifunctional device that does everything by itself. It is powerful and efficient and the food is cooked perfectly!


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