By Ikram Elharti of So Moroccan
Morocco has several tourist attractions and exotic locations; however, the one thing that unites a low-key budget experience with a grand tour package is the food. Food is a very large part of culture. A spice palette, dining etiquette and traditional food preparation methods give you a taste of the entire nation in one dish. A tour of Morocco must include a taste of its most famous traditional dish, Moroccan couscous.
Couscous is a special dish made every Friday in Moroccan homes. Typically the week’s leftover vegetables are used to make the stew for the couscous. Now this isn’t a dish made by merely putting together meat and vegetables; a lot of love and effort is stewed into the broth. Traditionally couscous is steamed for hours in a special pot, called a Couscoussier. A rich broth of seasonal vegetables and meat is then prepared simultaneously.
The best thing about this dish is that it is made accessible to everybody. It has simplistic ingredients like carrots, tomatoes, onions, beans, chicken or beef depending on what’s available.
Origins Of Moroccan Couscous
Before it gained national popularity, couscous was a staple in regions like North Africa, Libya and some parts of the Middle East. It came to be most frequently consumed by the Berber tribe in Morocco. Couscous continued to be a favorite among people in the 20th century due to its simplicity and affordability. It is most commonly served with the entire family gathered around for a feast in clay pots. The dish is also generously shared with friends and neighbors.
A Symbol Of Family, Unity & Hospitality
While many can claim they have tasted delicious couscous in their home countries, enjoying it in Morocco, prepared by Moroccans in their home, is a truly unique experience. Moroccans are some of the most welcoming people — it’s part of their culture and traditions. So, if you are lucky enough to make a friend on your visit and get an invite, they will show you the true meaning of hospitality.
Remember, Moroccan couscous is not just a dish; it binds the people from all strata of society together. It is an experience closest to the heart of Moroccan cooking and culture.
Traditional dishes give you an insight into the lives and values of a country, a state, society and a home. A hot pot of couscous is a dish without which the experience of Morocco would be incomplete. And even if you can’t travel to Morocco, the below recipe can be made at home to give you a taste of the country.
Vegetarian Moroccan Couscous Recipe
- 12 oz vegetable medley (carrots, cauliflower, zucchini squash), coarsely chopped
- 2 tbs. olive oil
- 1 cup pre-sliced onion
- 1 cup chicken broth or stock
- Salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 pinches saffron threads
- 1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
- 25 parsley and cilantro sprigs tied together
- 1 tomato, quartered
- 2 cups water
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking plain couscous
1. Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until softened. Add seasoning including saffron, turmeric, ginger salt and black Pepper. Place in tomatoes and herbs.
2. Add broth and water, bring to a boil.
3. Add the vegetables, cook for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are ready.
4. Cook couscous according to package directions.
5. In a serving plate, place the couscous with the vegetables. Pour some of the broth
6. Serve hot.
About Ikram Elharti
Ikram is a blogger and mom who resides in Florida. She enjoys sharing her passion for Moroccan culture and style in her blog www.somoroccan.com. She loves cooking authentic Moroccan food as well as sharing her best-kept secrets, what and where to eat like a local and other travel tips on Morocco, where she was born and raised.
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