Couscous royal with Harrisa

Sophie Grigson cooks up a spicy Middle Eastern vegetable stew with a side of Merguez sausages and cous cous
By Sophie Grigson
Couscous royal with Harrisa
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6-8
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Prep Time: 50 minutes
  • Effort: easy

Ingredients

For the vegetable stew

  • 250 g onions
  • 375 g carrots, chopped
  • 375 g butternut squash or pumpkin, cubed
  • 250 g turnips
  • 250 g cooked chickpeas

Method

1. Place the onions, carrots, pumpkin and turnips in a large pan with enough water to cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Grind the spices in a pestle and mortar until powdered.

3. Add the remaining ingredients, including the freshly ground spices and more water to cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until soft. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Before serving, strain the juices from the vegetables into a warmed bowl.

4. While the stew is cooking, measure the volume of the couscous, and pour over an equal volume of water along with the olive oil. Stir, cover tightly and set aside for 15 minutes, until the water has been absorbed. Add salt, breaking up any lumps. Pile into a large serving dish, and cover with foil. Heat through in a medium oven (190C/170C fan/Gas 5) until very hot if necessary, otherwise serve as it is. Make a well in the centre and fill with the hot vegetables, and sprinkle with chopped coriander and parsley.

5. Meanwhile make the harrisa - chop the chillies roughly and place in the processor. Dry fry the whole spices in a small pan over a moderate heat until they turn a shade darker, scenting the kitchen. Cool, then grind to a powder. Add to the chillies with all the remaining ingredients except the oil. Process until finely chopped, scraping down the sides. Keep the blades whirring as you gradually trickle in the olive oil. Scrape out and store in a small screw top jar in the fridge, pouring a thin layer of olive oil over the surface to exclude the air. It will last for several months, as long as you make sure the layer of oil is renewed every time you dip in.

6. Place the dishes in the centre of the table, and let the guests serve themselves with couscous, vegetables and enough flavoured stock to moisten their grain as they like it. Serve with the harissa and cooked merguez sausages on the side.

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