Bidaoui couscous with seven vegetables

Yield: 10 servings

Measure Ingredient
2¼ pounds Meat from veal knuckle or shoulder of lamb cut in 2\" pieces
2¼ pounds Onions
1 medium Savoy cabbage; cut in pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) + 2 tb. butter
½ teaspoon Saffron threads
\N \N Salt; to taste
1 tablespoon Black pepper
2¼ pounds Couscous
4 \N To 5 tomatoes; peeled seeded and quartered
1¾ pounds Eggplant; quartered
1¼ pounds Carrots; peeled cut in 2\" pieces
¾ pounds Turnips peeled and quartered
2 \N Dried chiles
1 cup Chopped fresh cilantro
¾ pounds Medium potatoes peeled and quartered
1¼ pounds Pumpkin; peeled and cubed
\N \N Harissa

Note: Couscous is made most easily in a couscousiere, a special two-part pot with a steamer on top. You can improvise your own couscousiere using a large pot with a steamer that fits snugly into the top: the couscous in the steamer must not touch the broth and vegetables cooking below. Harissa, an exceedingly hot pepper sauce sometimes served with couscous, can be found in ethnic markets or gourmet food shops.

In the bottom of the couscousiere or in a large pot, place the meat, 2 lbs. of the onions (sliced), the cabbage, 1 stick plus 1 tb. of the butter, saffron, salt and pepper. Cover with 5½ quarts of water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Place the couscous in the steamer and set it over the steaming broth.

Seal the seam between the steamer and the pot with a thick paste of flour and water so no steam can escape except through the couscous.

Reduce heat to medium; continue to steam for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour the couscous into a large shallow dish, pressing gently with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps. Allow couscous to cool, then sprinkle it with about 1 cup of cold water, allowing the grains to absorb as much as they will. Let the grains rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with up to another cup of cold water. At this point, the couscous can be set aside, covered, until you are ready for the final steaming.

One hour before serving, return the meat and broth to a boil, lower heat to medium, and add the tomatoes, eggplant, the remaining onions (peeled and quartered), carrots, turnips, chiles and cilantro. Simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook the potatoes and pumpkin over medium heat in a little of the broth from the pot until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Keep warm.

After thirty minutes, taste the broth for seasoning. Return couscous to the steamer and seal as before. Steam the couscous for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat and spread out in the large shallow dish. Stir in the remaining butter and as much broth as the couscous will absorb.

To serve, heap couscous in the center of a large round dish, make a well in the center, and fill it with the meat and vegetables. Serve remaining broth separately. Offer harissa on the side to mix into the broth.

The authors write: "Like all young brides, when Latifa Bannani-Smires married she wanted to make her husband happy. Since he liked good food, she learned to cook, asking family and friends question after question until she could flawlessly prepare the classics of Moroccan cuisine. Soon Latifa was providing the same information for other young brides just starting to find their way in the kitchen. 'I realized everyone needed the same information,' she says, 'but there was no basic book to turn to.' Latifa decided to write a primer on how to cook the enchanting, sometimes exotically seasoned food of Morocco. The book, _Moroccan Cooking_, was eagerly received and eventually translated into English. In the process, Latifa discovered she enjoyed teaching others about her native cuisine; she is now at work on a second book focusing on the country's regional cookery.

"'To cook Moroccan food successfully, you must like to cook,' says Latifa. 'Then you must know about the amounts. But perhaps most importantly, you must know how to make the sauce that is so important to many Moroccan dishes. No matter what the ingredients, the sauce must have the right consistency: not too light, not too heavy, or the dish won't taste right.'"

From Latifa Bannani-Smires of Morocco in "Cooking with Herbs" by Emelie Tolley and Chris Mead. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1989. Pg. 281. Posted by Cathy Harned.

Submitted By CATHY HARNED On 10-08-94

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