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Harissa-Spiced Beef with Dates and Couscous

4 Servings

30 minutes

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In this recipe, we use harissa, a North African spice paste, as the flavor base for a simple skillet-cooked meat sauce, as well as to season the couscous that’s served alongside. Scallions play a dual role in this dish—the whites are caramelized to lend depth of flavor to the sauce and the greens are sprinkled on as a garnish. Dates (or raisins) lend sweetness that play off the spicy, savory notes.



30 minutes


  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

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Stephen N.

The opening comments to this recipe describe harissa as "a North African spice paste". I have harissa both in "spice paste" form, and in ground spice form. Is your recipe instructing us to use "harissa" as "harissa paste", or in its ground form?

Lynn C.

Hi Stephen -

You're right. Harissa is both a ground spice and a spice paste. For this recipe we are using the spice paste form of harissa.

The Milk Street Team

Amy O.

This was delicious! Thumbs up from 2 teenage boys as well! We used ground lamb and golden raisins and all the extras but pistachios which we will definately add next time.

Louise L.

I only have harissa powder. How should I adjust the recipe?

Lynn C.

Hi Louise -

You can make your own harissa paste from the powder (there are tons of recipes online) or you can briefly cook the 1 1/2 tablespoons of powder in the 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and add to the couscous. Ground spices, such as harissa powder, need to be "bloomed" in oil to bring out their flavor. Then add the remaining powder with the cumin for the beef mixture.

The Milk Street Team

James B.

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Beth M.

Great combination of salty, spicy and a little sweet. I toasted some pine nuts to add for serving along with chopped green olives. What a great easy dish for a weeknight.

Emily S.

Tasty! I cut back a little back on the harissa in the beef since it was also in the couscous and it was just the right amount of spice for us.

Siri N.

This was delicious! Definitely worth the price of the harissa that I ordered from Milk Street Store. Very flavorful and super quick.

Jennifer B.

Delicious dish, just the right amount of sweetness and kick.