Kseksou (Algerian Couscous)

Algerian Couscous

In Algeria there are many, MANY recipes to learn. But the one recipe every Algerian or anyone that is married to one or going to be, must know is…..COUSCOUS! Couscous itself is a grain made from semolina or durum wheat. But the dish “couscous” is the grain spooned over with a sauce of meat and vegetables. Yes you can prepare couscous without sauce for an easy breakfast with buttermilk on the side or sweeten it up with brown sugar and nuts as it’s eaten in Egypt.

Couscous is originally a Berber dish but has made its way around the Mediterranean. It’s actually been voted as France’s favorite dish. In the recent years the US is catching onto couscous as a healthy alternative for rice right next to quinoa and with that you can simply find the grain at your nearest Whole Foods, and even Walmart *gasps*, lol. But the catch is the traditional way of preparing couscous will not be on the label. This way is the way my husband taught me. The right way, made with love and sweat.

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 2 pounds meat cubed (chicken, lamb or beef)
  • 3 carrots cut into 3 sections
  • 3 small potatoes cut into quarters
  • 2 zucchini cut into to demi circles
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tomato or 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 3-4 leaves fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon paprika (my husband likes the sauce very red, you may use less.
  • 1 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups water

Couscous:

  • 3 cups couscous grain
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt to taste

Directions:

Sauce:

  1. In your couscousiere heat the 4 tablespoons of olive over medium heat.
  2. Add meat and garlic and brown.
  3. Season with spices, salt, black pepper, paprika, ras el hanout, cayenne powder and cinnamon.
  4. Add tomato or tomato paste and caramelize.
  5. Add potatoes, carrots and chickpeas.
  6. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. During the 30 minutes you can prepare the couscous and steam over sauce or cook it completely.
  9. After the sauce has cooked for 30 minutes add zucchini and mint. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  10. Set aside.

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Couscous:

  1. In a large bowl spread out couscous and pour in 1/2 cup of water.
  2. Mix thoroughly and then lightly drizzle with olive oil to make sure each grain does not stick. Mix until every grain is separated.
  3. Bring pot of water to boil and place couscous in steamer over boiling water. Steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove couscous and place back into bowl.
  5. Add half the stick of butter and let cool until you are able to handle the couscous.
  6. Mix butter and make sure that there are no clumps of couscous.
  7. Place back into steamer and steam for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Again remove couscous and place into bowl.
  9. Add remaining 1/2 stick of butter and let cool until you are able to handle the couscous.
  10. Mix butter and make sure that are no clumps of couscous.
  11. Place back into steamer and steam for the last time for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove couscous and place back into bowl.
  13. Salt to taste and make sure the couscous is clump-free and fluffy.
  14. Serve with sauce.

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Chorba Frik (Algerian Soup with Cracked Wheat)

Chorba Frik (Algerian Soup with Cracked Wheat)

Chorba Frik or Jari as it is known in the western part of the country is the most requested soup during Ramadan. Chorba Frik is just one of those recipes that you MUST know if you are married to an Algerian or wanting to. It’s right up there next to Couscous, lol. No pressure though. This recipe is easy to follow and just as wonderful. From the smokiness from the frik to the tanginess of the cilantro, this recipe will be sure to tantalize your tastebuds. Pair this soup with bourek, bread and harissa.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lamb cubed (beef and or chicken can be substituted)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 zucchinis cut into demi circles
  • 2 potatoes quartered
  • 2 carrots cut into 3 sections
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup frik (cracked wheat)
  • 1/2 cup chick peas (soaked overnight)
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 cups hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • beef/chicken bouillon (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sprinkle with salt to sweat.
  2. Add meat and brown quickly. Season with spices and add chickpeas.
  3. Add 1/2 of cilantro.
  4. Continue browning the meat and add the carrots and potatoes. Seer the vegetables slightly.
  5. Add the 8 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
  6. Lower heat to a simmer and continue for 15 minutes then add zucchini. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Remove vegetables into a separate bowl with 1 cup of broth.
  8. Emulsify vegetables until smooth with hand blender or crush with potato masher/fork.
  9. Place vegetable puree back into pot and add frik.
  10. Simmer for an additional 15 minutes and add lemon juice. Adjust taste with salt.

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