Couscous Recipes: Fez Couscous

The ancient city of Fez is considered the gastronomic capital of Morocco. The traditional Fez couscous is the world-famous Seven Vegetables couscous, featuring seven vegetables, chicken, lamb and both sweets and spices. This is yet another traditional Fez couscous, tantalisingly sweet with honey and a touch of saffron just before serving.

Serves 6 people

675g (1 ½ lbs) couscous
900g (3 ½ lbs) lamb neck, cut into 6 pieces
225g (8 oz) dried chickpeas
6 large Spanish onion, quartered
200ml (1/3 pint) honey or granulated sugar
115g (4 oz) raisins
225 (8 oz) unsalted butter
2 pinches pulverised saffron
1 teaspoon powdered turmeric
2 cinnamon sticks
1 ½ powdered cinnamon
3 sprigs of fresh green coriander and parsley, tied together with thread
Salt and black pepper to taste

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight. The next day, drain them, cover with cold water and cook for 1 hour. Drain, cool and submerge the chickpeas in a bowl of cold water. Gently rub the chickpeas with your fingers so that the skins discard and rise to the top of the water. Set the peeled chickpeas aside.

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

To make the broth, place the lamb in at the bottom of the couscoussier with three tablespoons of the butter. Add the salt, pepper, pinch of saffron, turmeric, 1 quartered onions, cinnamon sticks and herbs. Cover and cook gently over low heat for 10 minutes. Add the dried chickpeas and 1.8 litres (3 ¼ pints) water and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, slice the remaining quartered Spanish onions and place in pan with 600 ml (1 pint) water. Cover tightly and steam for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and drain the onions thoroughly.

When the lamb has cooked for 1 hour, it is time to prepare the glazed topping. Transfer the simmering broth to a separate heavy-bottomed casserole. Put the drained onions, cinnamon, 5 tablespoons butter, and honey (or sugar) back in the casserole. Mix well to blend and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Add the raisins and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has turned into a thick, syrupy glaze.

Just before serving, blend the remaining butter with the pulverised saffron and dot the couscous in the last 5 minutes of steaming. Spread out the couscous into a serving dish and toss well so that the couscous grains turn a bright yellow. Spread out and form a large well in the centre. Using a perforated spoon, transfer the lamb into the centre and cover with the glazed onions. Drain the broth and serve separately.