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Seven vegetable couscous (a Maroque recipe)

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ready in 2 hours and 30 mins

Complex

Every family in Moroccan has its own version, this is mine.  It does include lamb, but it works just as well without the meat for a veggie feast.  Using seven vegetables is meant to be lucky, and at this time of year it's quite easy to get seven vegetables.

Ingredients

1kg (2lb) lean lamb cut into large chunks or a lamb shank each
2 onions sliced
300g (11oz) couscous
1100ml (2pts) of vegetable stock
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 generous pinches of saffron strands
30g (1oz) butter
Coriander leaves chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

8 small carrots
1 squash cut into slices
8 small courgettes
4 small aubergines
4 large tomatoes
2 peppers cut into quarters
400g (13oz) tin of chick peas (I class this as a veg)

You can also add potatoes, parsnips, swede and cabbage

Method

1. This dish is ideally cooked in a couscoussiere, but a large pot with a lid and a large sieve or colander lined with damp muslin will do fine.  Or for ease, cook the couscous separately with stock and butter.

2. Fry off the lamb and onions until brown.

3. Add all the spices (not the coriander leaves) and stir until coated.  Add the stock and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer.

4. Cook the lamb and spices for about an hour, longer for lamb shank.

5. While the lamb is cooking, rinse the couscous in water drain and set aside, break up any lumps that form with your fingers.

6. Add the carrots and the chickpeas to the lamb and cook for 30 minutes.

7. During this time add the couscous to the sieve and place over the pot with the lid on, to steam the couscous in the aromatic steam, for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the top of the pot and fork through to break up any lumps and then add the butter to the couscous working it through with a fork.

8. Add the rest of the vegetables to the pot along with the chopped coriander, add more stock if needed.

9. Place the buttered couscous back on top of the pot and replace the lid.  Cook for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

10. To serve, heap the couscous onto a warmed platter and form into an even ring around the outside.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb and the vegetables to the centre of the dish.  Pour some of the juice over and the rest into a serving jug.

Serves 4 to 6

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