Pumpkin Couscous

  • Serves

    serves 8


This recipe is an adaptation of one in the seminal Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco by Paula Wolfert (Harper & Row, 1973).


  • 1 12 lb. lamb neck or shoulder, cut into 5 pieces
  • 4-5 large yellow onions, peeled, then quartered and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 12-2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 pinches pulverized saffron
  • 12 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 12 cups cooked chickpeas, skins removed
  • 12 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups couscous (not precooked)
  • Flour
  • 6 carrots, peeled, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and cut into 2 1/2"-3"-long pieces
  • 14 cup sugar
  • 1 12 cups raisins
  • 1 12 lb. pumpkin or kabocha or butternut squash, trimmed, peeled, seeded and cut into 2" pieces


Step 1

Put lamb in bottom part of a couscoussier. Add onions, salt, pepper, ginger, saffron, turmeric, chickpeas, half the butter, and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, spread couscous out in a large shallow pan. Pour 12 cups water over grains, quickly stir with your hands, then drain off excess water through a sieve. Return couscous to pan, spreading it out in an even layer, and set aside to let swell for 20-30 minutes. Moisten your fingers, then use them to separate couscous grains, breaking up any lumps.

Step 3

Uncover bottom part of couscoussier and set top part over simmering broth. So that all steam is forced up through holes in top part of couscoussier, dampen a piece of cheesecloth long enough to fit around rim of bottom part of couscoussier. Dust cheesecloth with flour, then loosely twist into a rope and wrap around couscoussier where top and bottom parts meet, tucking cheesecloth into seam to ensure a tight seal.

Step 4

Using your hands, gently add couscous to top part of couscoussier, breaking up any lumps. Increase heat to medium and steam couscous, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Transfer couscous to same large pan, sprinkle with 1⁄2-1 cup cold water, and break up any more lumps with your fingers. Set couscous aside to dry for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, add carrots, sugar, and raisins to simmering broth and cook for 30 minutes.

Step 5

Add pumpkin to broth. Return couscous to top part of couscoussier, set over simmering broth, then reseal with cheesecloth and steam for 30 minutes more.

Step 6

Transfer couscous to a large platter and toss with the remaining butter , breaking up any lumps with a fork. Spread grains out, making a well in the center. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meat to a cutting board, discard bones, and cut into small pieces. Put meat into well, then arrange vegetables over meat. Adjust broth seasoning's then strain over couscous and vergetables. Serve with harissa (Tunisian hot pepper sauce), if you like.

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