Couscous Recipes: Berber Couscous

Berber couscous is traditionally made with smen, a form of preserved butter that gives a wonderful flavour to couscous. Use our smen recipe or substitute with fresh butter.

Serves 6 people

675g (1 ½ lbs) couscous
1 small chicken, washed and excess fat removed
1 large Spanish onion, quartered
8 white baby onions, peeled
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
450g (1 lb) white turnips, cut into chunks
680g(1 ½ lbs) small courgettes, quartered
225g (8oz) baby peas
600ml (1 pint) fresh milk
3 tablespoons herbed smen or 4 to 5 tablespoons fresh butter
1 red chilli pepper
115 (4 oz) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon powdered turmeric mixed with pulverised saffron
1 cinnamon stick
8 sprigs of fresh green coriander and parsley, tied together with thread
Salt and black pepper to taste

To prepare the couscous, follow the instructions for making couscous.

To make the broth, place the chicken in at the bottom of the couscoussier with the butter. Add the salt, pepper, spiced, half the chopped tomatoes, quartered onion, cinnamon stick and herbs. Cover and cook gently over low heat for 10 minutes. Add 1 litre (1 ½ pints) water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Then, add the peeled white baby onions.

Add the turnips to the broth and cook for a further 15 minutes.

Thirty minutes before serving, puree the rest of the chopped tomato in a blender. Add the puree, courgettes, peas and chilli pepper to the broth. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Just before serving, dot the couscous in the last 5 minutes of steaming with the smen and work with your hands to smooth out any lumps. Spread out the couscous into a serving dish and form a large well in the centre. Using a perforated spoon, transfer the chicken into the centre and cover with the vegetables. Meanwhile, add the creamy milk into the broth and bring to the boil. Strain the broth and serve at once.