Many traditional Christmas dishes are composed around meat. It is useful to remember that our ancestors did not have the luxury of meat in everyday life. So they compensated by creating exceptional carnivore dishes.
Having said this, vegetarian and vegan dishes become more and more popular. I wish to share this traditional Berber couscous from Algeria adapted to the sauce of the modern world. It is a light, healthy and colourful dish that will satisfy all tastes.The combination of spices with the chickpeas is so tasty that meat becomes unnecessary.
It is a nice idea to prepare this couscous also in case you have guests with different nutritional regimes. A slow roasted lamb shoulder in the oven can be presented as a side dish for whomever appreciates this without compromising the taste of your vegan/vegetarian guests.
The greatness of this dish is the amazing aroma of the spices. Your kitchen will be enchanted by a beautiful Christmas scent.
Ingredients for four portions:
- 400 gr instant couscous (optional, if you know how to separate the grains by hand and you live in a country where you can find real couscous, take the time to prepare it properly)
- 200 gr chickpeas
- 3-4 medium carrots chopped in large chunks
- 250 gr turnips chopped in large chunks
- 2-3 medium zucchinis in large chunks
- 4 tomatoes mixed in a food processor
- a roasted eggplant
- a sliced onion
- extra virgin Greek olive oil
- 2 tsp raz el hanout
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 tbsp of butter (optional, can be replaced by olive oil)
- 2 tsp of baking soda
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 2 l of water
- some herbs for the presentation (parsley, mint, coriander according to your preferences)
24 hours before:
- Put the chickpeas into a bowl of water with the baking soda and let them rest in the fridge for a whole day.
On the day of the preparation:
- Put the chickpeas into a pan and boil them for 1 hour or until they become soft.
- Drain the chickpeas.
- Put some olive oil into a pan, turn the heat on low and add the onion and the spices.
- Add the garlic cloves.
- Roast for 3-4 minutes, just enough time for the spices to develop their aroma.
- Add the chickpeas and keep on stirring in low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the carrots and the turnips
- Add the water.
- Add the tomato sauce
- Let this soup simmer for 1 hour
- Carefully add the zucchini.
- Let simmer for 20 more minutes.
- Prepare the couscous according to the instructions of the packaging.
It is ready. For the presentation separate the vegetable from the chickpeas and the sauce. Present the grains of couscous in a separate large and deep plate, the sauce in a bowl and the vegetable on a plate. In this way your guests will choose whatever they wish according to their taste.