Berkoukes (Algerian Couscous Stew)

Berkoukes (Algerian

Berkoukes is a traditional Berber dish made of a large couscous that is a hand rolled semolina pasta shaped like small balls or pellets. Of course throughout the country the recipes vary from the Kabylie region of the Atlas Mountains to the Capital of Algiers. Typically the recipes from Algiers are mild in flavor whereas in the mountains dried meats and fats are added for a much stronger flavor. Second after taste is how much sauce is in it. My husband always wants extra sauce, but for this dish not much is needed. Depending how you like it doesn’t make much difference, either add more water or not. Serve this dish on a cold winter’s night with a drizzle of olive oil and warm kesra or matlou3.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound meat (lamb, chicken, beef)
  • 1 1/2 cups berkoukes
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 4 cups hot water +/-
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ras el hanout
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and sprinkle with salt to sweat.
  2. Add meat and brown.
  3. Season and continue to brown.
  4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and slightly caramelize.
  5. Add chickpeas, carrots and potatoes, continue to brown.
  6. Then add cilantro and parsley, stir then add hot water, bring to a boil for 1 minute.
  7. Lower temperature and simmer for 30 minutes.
  8. Mix in zucchini and peas, simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Add 1 cup of water, and berkoukes cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  10. Stir frequently and check to see if more water is needed as the berkoukes will absorb a lot of water. Garnish with parsley and harissa, serve with bread.

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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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