This is an authentic couscous recipe. It tastes slightly sweet, rich and very earthy. Fresh grapes are not usually served with any traditional couscous dish, but this is how my mother’s side of the family eats “Tefaya” couscous. Someone would grab a bunch of grapes from the vine in the garden, and just throw it in the couscous plate at the last minute before serving.
Here is how to eat it: you use your spoon to scoop some couscous, then you stick the tip of it in the fried almonds, onions and raisins to load-up on the flavors. You swallow it and you feel the tingling warmth of spices in your throat. Then you grab some grapes with your fingers and pop them in your mouth. The cold, juicy grapes explode in your mouth with freshness, washing off the spices and resetting your taste buds for another spoon of rich couscous. That is how you enjoy “Tfaya” couscous!
Serves 4 to 6
Cooking time: 55 minutes
Start to finish time: 1 Hour 20 minutes
For the broth:
750g Beef chunks
3 Tablespoons Argan oil (grape seed oil or canola oil can be used also)
1½ Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon Rass El Hanout spice mixture (allspice can be used also)
½ Teaspoon Coriander
2 Bay leafs
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
½ Teaspoon Ginger
½ Teaspoon Black pepper
1 Teaspoon Turneric
3 Large red onions – 1 kg
1 Bouquet of parsley – 20g
1 ½ Cup of water.
1 ½ Cup golden raisins
For the couscous:
480g Hand-rolled, sun dried couscous.
3 Tablespoon Argan oil
1½ Cups water
1 Teaspoon salt
You can also use instant couscous and follow the instructions on the packaging.
For the garnish:
200g Blanched almonds
½ Cup Grape seed oil
300g Seedless black grapes
Preparation of the broth:
Peel the red onions and halve them. Place each half of the cut side flat on the cutting board and slice it horizontally into thin, half-moon slices.
Heat the 3 Tablespoon Argan oil, add the meat cut into 3”x3” pieces (approximately),salt, Rass El Hanout, coriander, bay leaves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper and turmeric. Stir to distribute the spices evenly on the meat. Cook uncovered, on medium heat, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onions. Pick up each piece of meat and place it on top of the onions. Add the bouquet of parsley and 1 ½ Cup of water. Cover and cook for 40 minutes or until the meat is perfectly tender.
Soak the raisins in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain the water away and add the raisins to the meat and onions. Cook for another 10 minutes.
Preparation of fried almonds:
You can purchase previously blanched almonds from retail stores in the baking goods section, otherwise, you can follow these directions to blanch them:
Bring water to a boil in a deep pan. Add the almonds and let them boil for about 5 to 10 minutes, until the skin looks puffed up.
Drain the water away. Allow the almonds to cool down for 5 minutes only. While the almonds are still warm, squeeze each one between your fingers to peel the skin off. You must peel all the almonds as fast as you can, if they get cold, the skin might stick on again! Some almonds might fly in all directions while you are peeling them, that is normal, you will get a hang of it quickly and that won’t happen anymore!
Heat the grape seed oil on medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Throw in one blanched almond. If bubbles start forming around it immediately, throw in the remaining blanched almonds. If not, allow the oil to heat some more.
Fry the almonds on medium heat until they look “slightly Tan” not golden! Almonds will keep cooking even after you take them off the heat and they will turn golden. Place the almonds on a sheet of paper towel to absorb the excess of oil.
Preparation of couscous:
Please refer to “How To” section on my website, for instructions on how to steam couscous. Or follow instructions on the packaging if you are using instant couscous.
To serve, arrange the couscous on the serving plate in a cone shape, drizzle over it with the onions and gravy. Arrange the pieces of meat on top.
Divide the blanched almonds in half. Grind one half coarsely and sprinkle with it over the couscous. Use the remaining half to garnish.
Wash and towel dry the grapes and arrange them on one side of the plate.