Lamb and vegetable tagine with steamed medium couscous

I bought some medium sized couscous from the South Melbourne Market and have been experimenting with it. I had found that simply soaking it in boiling water like you do with normal small couscous did not cook it through, so had been doing a combination of soaking and light boiling with fairly good results. However, I do know that in Northern Africa that they steam their couscous for lighter results. I decided to take this approach, and the results were fantastic, it was like eating silken air.

Ingredients

  • 3 brown onions sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove finely diced
  • 500g lamb cut into large pieces
  • 5 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 heaped tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 large kumara (sweet potato)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 medium aubergines (eggplant)
  • 2 cups of medium couscous
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method

  1. Cut up the onions and garlic and cook with a little olive oil in a heavy based pot that you also have a steamer for. Cook over a medium heat until soft but not coloured, then remove.
  2. Add a little more oil, turn the heat to high and quickly brown the meat in batches, then remove.
  3. Wipe out the pan and dry, turn the heat down and dry fry the turmeric and cayenne pepper for 1 minute and add back in the onions and lamb along with the tomato puree. Turn through and add enough water to cover everything. Bring up the water to a simmer and add the saffron.
  4. Separately boil some water in a jug and pore over the medium couscous, cover and leave to sit for 30 minutes.
  5. Cut the aubergine into rings, 1.5cm thick, brush with olive oil and sprinkle over with salt. Heat a heavy saucepan or griddle over a high heat and dry fry the aubergine in batches, turning once there is a light char. Cut the aubergine rings in half and set to one side.
  6. Peal and cut the kumara and carrot into chunks and add to the tagine.
  7. Drain the couscous and place into the steamer and place on top of the tagine for 15 minutes.
  8. Put the butter and cinnamon in the bottom of a large bowl, then turn out the couscous and stir through, fluffing up with a fork.
  9. Add the aubergine to the tagine, stir through, taste and season.
  10. Return the couscous to the steamer and place on the tagine for a further 15 minutes.
  11. Take the steamer off, tip the couscous back into the bowl and fluff up again.
  12. Serve with a base of couscous and the tagine over the top.


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