Couscous is fabulous. If you haven’t had it before, you should and you’ll be glad you did. Many people mistakenly think of it as a grain. It’s actually semolina, or granules of durum wheat – like tiny bits of pasta. You can buy it in white and whole wheat varieties. The national dish of Libya is couscous, commonly prepared like this, with stewed beef, vegetables, and garbanzo beans in a spicy tomato sauce.
The traditional vegetables that are used are sweet potatoes and carrots. However, in our family, we like to used butternut squash and regular russet potatoes. It’s a warming, hearty, 'comfort food' dish featuring a delicious blend of spices everyone already has on their spice rack. You get spicy, sweet, and savory flavors all in one bite.
This dish is a family favorite.I learned how to make this dish from my father. He spent some part of his childhood in Libya because of his father's career. All my life, he has been making this dish. The problem is, he would only make it once a year. So, I decided to learn how to make it so I can have it as often as I wanted.
2 lbs beef cubes
4 bay leaves
5 Green Cardamom pods
1/2 Cup olive oil
2 jalapenos, halved lengthwise
3 onions, thinnly sliced
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 -5s medium potatoes, cut in half or thirds widthwise
1 butternut squash, cut into medium wedges
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound couscous
2 tablespoons Ghee
5 tablespoons Orange blossom water
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Boil first four ingredients with plenty of water.
Once fully cooked, drain beef pieces saving the broth.
In a different pot, add oil and begin to heat.
Add jalapenos and let them fry a little until oil absorbs flavor. You can add more or put less depending on how spicy you like it.
Add onions and sauté until translucent.
Add spices and stir.
Add tomato paste and stir well.
Add the beef broth and whisk to blend until paste melts and becomes part of the liquid. Bring to boil.
Add potatoes and squash. Let it boil well in the sauce until they are cooked through.
Add the beef into the stew and continue to boil.
Remove squash and potatoes from stew.
Add garbanzo beans and let cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through.
Add an extra splash of ground cinnamon & stir well.
In a steamer, boil water and cook couscous on top. (Or follow directions on package. This process will not work on some brands of couscous.)
Once cooked, transfer to bowl. Add the oil from on top of the stew till couscous becomes a golden color.
Add orange blossom water, cinnamon, and salt and stir well.
Transfer to a serving dish, top with pieces of meat, squash, and potatoes, add some of the sauce on top including the onions and garbanzo beans. Serve & enjoy!