Nowadays, food is not limited to killing hunger. Gastronomy has changed the way we enjoy food with its many cuisines. It has created an instrument for the propagation of culture as food and is one of the best representations of local culture and traditions. When dealing with a continent as diverse as Africa, summarizing its gastronomic palette is no easy feat.
The way a dish is prepared, the ingredients used, the type of animal products raised and the final composition reflect the environment in which each person lives. It features all the traditions passed on generation by generation and the history that surrounds the village or corner of the continent. It’s hard to choose one dish to represent a whole entire continent, so let’s explore dishes starting north, with Morocco.
The history behind couscous
Morocco is located in the Maghreb region of North Africa with coastal access to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s key geographical location made the region desirable by other nations throughout history. But when you visit today, notions of occupation by foreigners are nowhere to be found. When I visited Morocco at the beginning of the year I was welcomed by friendly locals and enjoyed cheerful meals with couscous featured as the main dish.
Some believe that couscous was introduced to the region somewhere between the 11th and 13th centuries by Berber Muslim’s but its origin is still unclear. What is very clear is that couscous is iconic in the gastronomy scene in Morroco for its cultural affinity and rich nutritional value. The dish servers as a blank canvas to highlight flavors from the wide variety of Arab spices the country is well-known for, and to express national identities and different ways of life.
You can easily see in this video the cheerful and almost festive vibes you can find while enjoying a meal in Morocco. Play this video on repeat and follow the recipe below to be transported to Tangier, Morocco in one meal.
How to make Moroccan Chicken Couscous at home
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into ¾ -inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
- ½ teaspoons ground coriander, divided
- ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
- ¾ cup chopped red onion
- 1 ½ cups matchstick carrots
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth
- ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
- 1 cup dry couscous
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup natural sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick 12-inch saute pan or deep skillet over medium-high heat.
Add chicken to pan and season with salt and pepper, ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon coriander, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon. Cook, turning occasionally until cooked through, about 7 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a sheet of foil and wrap to keep warm. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the skillet.
Add in bell pepper and onion, and saute 5 minutes.
Add in carrots, garlic, remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon coriander, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and turmeric and saute 1 minute.
Add in chicken broth and apricots or golden raisins, season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil (it shouldn't just simmer on the edges it should boil lightly in the center as well).
Stir in couscous then remove from heat and let rest 5-6 minutes until tender.
Stir in chicken and any accumulated juices, lemon juice, almonds, cilantro and mint (you can also add in little more broth if desired). Serve warm.
Tried making your own version of couscous at home? Then make sure to share your creation on social media and tag us at @skyhour for a chance to be featured on this article.