Moroccan Chicken Couscous

(adapted from this cookbook)

This is one of my favorite recipes. You can make the vegetable part ahead of time (and freeze it for later) and just make the couscous fresh. It also tastes amazing as a leftover.

3 tbsp. olive oil
6 chicken breasts, cubed
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 can chickpeas
4 large carrots, cut into thick chunks
large pinch of saffron threads, dissolved in 2 tbsp. boiling water*
finely grated rind of 2 lemons or oranges
2 red bell peppers, cored, deseeded and sliced
2 large zucchini, cut into chunks
2 tomatoes, cored, deseeded and chopped
3 1/2 oz. dried apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 1/2 cups water or chicken stock.
1 tbsp. butter
3 1/2 cups instant couscous
salt and pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large, flameproof casserole. Throw your chicken in and cook 5 minutes until crisp and brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onions to the pan (you may need a little extra oil) and fry for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Fry for an additional 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return the chicken to the casserole. Add chickpeas with the juices, carrots, saffron and citrus rind. Pour in enough water (or chicken stock) to cover by 1 inch and bring to boil.

Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Add the peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, dried apricots, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Re-cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare your couscous, as directed on the packaging. Be sure to add a bit of salt and butter to the water for seasoning.

Fluff the prepared couscous with a fork. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the stew. Spoon couscous into individual bowls and top with stew.

(photograph of saffron thread)

*Depending on where you live, saffron could be a bit pricey. I’ve made it with and without before — the recipe is equally yummy either way. If you choose to omit the saffron, try adding a bit of mild curry.
(Serves 6)


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