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Moroccan couscous and harissa couscous recipes

Couscous is a dish made with small balls of rolled semolina. Couscous doesn’t have much taste on its own therefore it’s normally served with sauces and flavorful additions of herbs and spices, vegetables or meat stews.

Couscous has been known since the thirteenth century and it is one of the most popular foods in North African countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya . It is also well-known in other parts of Africa, France and Israel.

Moroccan couscous

Moroccan couscousWhile pearl couscous which is also known as Israeli couscous is a type of ingredient , Moroccan couscous refers to the way in which a dish has been prepared. Normally we cook couscous by adding boiling water to it and waiting till it absorbs the liquid. However, the authentic way to cook couscous Moroccan style is to steam it in a traditional pot called a ‘cas-cas’ (Moroccan), that is made up of  two parts, a pot and a steamer, and is called a couscoussière (French), or just a couscous-maker. A couscoussière is an unusually tall steamer pot. The tall bottom part is used for cooking flavorful meats or vegetables, while the couscous is steamed above that and becomes infused with all the aromas coming from the simmering broth.

Moroccan couscous also means it could be served  with a variety of savory and sweet ingredients traditional to Moroccan cuisine, such as harissa, saffron or even cinnamon and raisins.


Harissa couscous recipes

We are going to cover some harissa couscous recipes as well as recipes that are traditional to Moroccan cuisine. The common feature for all of them are strong aromas and intensive use of herbs, spices and vegetables which also makes them a healthy side dish.

Harissa couscous salad with roasted tomatoes

This beautiful recipe introduced by Nigel Slater, English food writer. The recipe combines a Mediterranean sauce made of roasted tomatoes and onions with Moroccan harissa and couscous for a stunning taste combination where couscous serves as a taste-neutral base for the rich and sweet tomatoes.

Yield: 2


  • 1.5 lbs assorted small tomatoes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 ¾ cups vegetable stock
  • ¾ cups couscous
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • Small bunch mint and parsley, finely chopped

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400F (360F fan).
  2. Place tomatoes and onions on a baking tray and sprinkle with minced garlic and olive oil.
  3. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  4. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tomatoes become soft and slightly browned.
  5. Bring the vegetable stock to boil and pour it over the couscous. Cover with a lid and leave for 5-7 minutes.
  6. Mix couscous with chopped herbs.
  7. Lightly smash roasted tomatoes with fork, so that they release their juices and mix them with harissa.
  8. Mix the tomato mixture with couscous and garnish with some chopped herbs.

Minted harissa couscous with shrimps

This is a very light salad which would be perfect for those on a diet or counting calories. It has only 378 calories per serving, it is full of vegetables and doesn’t sacrifice the taste of the dish for the sake of being healthy.

Yield: 4


  • 1 3/10 cups couscous
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken or fish Stock
  • 0.49 pounds prawns
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 0.77 pounds zucchini, sliced
  • 2 shallot onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • Bunch of Mint

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan, add onions, garlic and zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften, for approximately 4 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  2. Bring the stock to boil. Add boiling stock to the mixture and add couscous. Take off the heat, cover with a lid and leave for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Cook shrimps in the other pan with a bit of olive oil until they are warm or red (if you are using fresh shrimps).
  4. Mix in shrimps, mint and harissa with couscous.

Easy harissa couscous

This is the simplest couscous recipe but it still has lots of flavors in it. Serve this couscous with some chicken, lamb or salmon.


  • Couscous
  • Harissa
  • Bunch of cilantro or parsley
  • A bunch of mint
  • Lemon or lime juice

Cooking Directions

  1. Cook couscous according to the instructions.
  2. When cooked, fluff it up with a fork while adding harissa and chopped herbs.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and lime or lemon juice to taste.

Moroccan salad with couscous and raisins


  • 1 1/25 cup couscous
  • 1/6 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 0.8 pounds carrots
  • 0.8 pounds zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 5 tablespoons high quality olive oil
  • 1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan, add couscous and cook it, stirring for 2 minutes till slightly golden. Add 7/8 cup of water and let it boil.
  2. Put the heat on the lowest setting, close the pan with a lid and let couscous stay there for 10-12 minutes until the water is almost fully absorbed.
  3. Add raisins and tomatoes, stir and take off the heat.
  4. Put the covered pan on the side for another 5 minutes to allow the flavours mingle and water to be absorbed completely.
  5. Transfer couscous to the serving bowl.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat, add onions, garlic and cumin seeds and stir fry them for 1 minute, then add carrots, onions and zucchini. Pour vinegar and stir. Sauté vegetables for another 5 minutes, but don’t let them become soft.
  7. Gently mix vegetables with couscous, 3 tablespoons of olive oil, harissa and some salt.
  8. Mix in cilantro just before serving. Serve warm or cold.

Moroccan style chicken harissa soup with couscous

Couscous is normally used as a side dish; however, it can also be used as a filling for soups or watery stews. When it’s cooked in a soup, it absorbs the aromatic rich broth and becomes extremely tasty as well as adding a different texture to the dish.

Yield: 4


  • 2.64 pounds chicken
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 celeriac, coarsely grated
  • 2 cups chopped tinned tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon harissa
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 2 tablespoons parsely, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mint, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 6 cups water

Cooking Directions

  1. Cut the chicken into pieces. Take the skin off and discard.
  2. Pan fry chicken parts with some olive oil on high heat till golden. Take them out and put aside.
  3. Cook carrot, celeriac and finely chopped onions 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add paprika, cumin and harissa, mix it well with veggies’ mixture and return chicken back to the pan.
  5. Add 4 cups of water and let it boil. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and a cinnamon stick.
  6. Add salt and pepper, decrease heat so that water is slightly simmering and cook with a lid closed for 1 hour.
  7. Take chicken out of the soup, separate the meat from the bones and shred it.
  8. Add 2 cups cups of water to the pan, wait till it boils and add couscous, stir. Reduce the heat and add chopped herbs. Cook for 10-15 minutes with the lid off. Add the chicken back to the pan.
  9. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste.

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