Seven Vegetable Couscous

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Seven Vegetable Cous Cous

Provided by Abdelghaffar Bougrine, Chef de Cuisine at La Sultana in Marrakech, Morocco

http://lasultanahotels.com/eng/marrakech

 

La Sultana is one of Marazakech's most prestigious hotels and restaurants. We dined there whilst researching our guide to the city and enjoyed two dishes in particular, and this is one of them so we're really happy that La Sultana has allowed us to share it with you! A vegetarian couscous with 7 vegetables is nutritionally a very balanced dish thanks to the semolina (cous cous) combined with carrots, pumpkin, turnip, eggplant, zucchini, cabbage and chickpeas, which act as a source of protein. The dish is traditionally served with a sauce made of onions and sultanas to offer a sweet flavor and more energy. If you'd like to know more about Chef Bougrine there's a short interview with him after the recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • 350g zucchini
  • 350g turnip
  • 1 tomato
  • 350g green cabbage
  • 300g carrots
  • 300g eggplant
  • 300g pumpkin
  • 300g onions
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of dry ginger
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 7 tbsp of olive oil
  • 6 tbsp of sunflower oil
  • 200g chickpeas
  • 600g of semolina

Process:

  • In a large saucepan that has a lid, combine semolina with 0,25 litre of cold water, 2 tbsp of sunflower oil and 2 tbsp of olive oil.
  • Using a large pot, heat 4 tbsp of sunflower oil and 5 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers (about 1 minute.)
  • Add the chopped onions and the spices (salt, pepper, ginger & saffron), turn the heat down and allow it to cook for about 15 minutes.
  • Add chickpeas and 0,25 litre of cold water, cover the pot and bring everything to boil. Then turn the heat down and allow it to cook for about another 15 min.
  • Pour the mixture into the other pot holding the semolina, to cook with only the heat and steam.
  • To another pan add the zucchinis, turnips, green cabbage, eggplants, pumpkin and carrots and cook on “simmer” (a very low temperature) for about 20 minutes
  • Add the tomato at the end of cooking.
  • Pour the semolina in a salad bowl, add 1 tbsp of olive and stir with a fork or your fingers to separate the granule.
  • For the dressage, pour the semolina in a serving dish, add the vegetables on top and cover to keep warm.

 

TIPS: Steam the semolina in 3 stages of 10 minutes. Between every stage add 1 tsp of olive oil and and stir with a fork or your fingers to separate the granule.

Take a cupful of the broth, stir in paprika and enough cayenne pepper to make it quite hot, and serve on the side.

We asked Chef Bougrine a few questions with the aim of getting to understand more about food in Morocco, and his own views on certain subjects that are important to us all nowadays. Here is what transpired.

 

What was your favourite food when you were growing up?

My favourite food was my mother’s Couscous with 7 vegetables; this is a staple food of Moroccan cuisine. We would eat it on Friday, our holy day, as it is a Moroccan traditional custom to celebrate this holy day with family around a Couscous dish.

 

What was your town or village like? We'd like to know as much about the world surrounding your favorite food as possible. If you can, please give us the recipe for this food.

I was born and raised in Fez Morocco, a city renowned for its gastronomy in Morocco. What I found extraordinary in the Couscous food is how it has been refined in every region with the local products. The Couscous dish is a seafood couscous in cities nearby the sea, a camel meat couscous in the desert region, herbs & goat meat couscous in the Atlas Mountains...

 

The Couscous is the national dish of Morocco influenced by regional flavours that makes it so special and show how the country is diverse in terms of natural environment and food influences.

 

What inspired you to become the chef that you have become?

As a child I used to watch my mother cook for the family and prepare many different types of sweet & savory food as this is often the case in a Moroccan family (the mother would cook main dish & salads and would also cook their own Moroccan pastries, the father would be in charge of bringing all the seasonal ingredients).

 

Then at the age of 10, I began to help her cook and became her little cook assistant. Most importantly she shared her passion for cooking with me and passed on all her knowledge.

 

Later on, I took on hospitality management studies and continued to be inspired on a daily basis by renowned Chefs I had the privilege to work with. I am proud to cook for the finest table of the country today.

 

What advice do you have for people who want to eat healthier. Should they eat organic? Or is eating locally produced food better?

In my opinion, the best advice is eating locally produced food as it leads to fresh ingredients and a better value for money as less transport is involved. Also this leads at a larger scale to less additive/pesticide in the production as it is a short way from producer to consumer.

The basic key to healthy diet is eating nutritionally balanced meal (with glucides, proteins, lipids) and eating a wide varied kind of food (match vegetable with each season is an easy rule to rotate the vegetable throughout a year).

 

And finally, if you had to limit your diet to include only 25 individual types of food, what would you choose (kale, apples, spirulina, spinach, chia, sweet potato, goji, etc) for maximum active and general lifestyle benefit?

I would choose simple & basic types of food for a healthy body and food I am fond of as a gourmet: meat, fish, sea food, zucchinis, beans, spinach, broccoli, rocket, garlic, onions, tomatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes, parsley, coriander, ginger, lemon, apples, banana, figs, Moroccan dates, sultanas, orange, strawberries, goat cheese.

 

If you'd like to know more about La Sultana in Marrakech please visit http://lasultanahotels.com/eng/marrakech

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