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North African Chicken Couscous

6 Servings

1 hour 15 minutes 30 minutes active

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We got an education in couscous in Tunisia, including a lesson from Amel Cherif, a home cook who showed us the basics of making couscous light and flavorful at her apartment on the outskirts of Tunis. For our version, we use an 8-quart pot fitted with a stackable steamer insert that sits on top. If you don’t own one, a large pot and a folding steamer basket worked well, too. Whisking the liquid from the stew into the steamed couscous is a key step, deeply flavoring the grain-like pasta and helping it stay light, fluffy and distinct. We especially liked this dish made with our homemade harissa. Among store-bought brands, we preferred DEA, which is sold in a tube and in cans. We start the recipe using 1/4 cup of harissa to flavor the stew, then finish by mixing another 1/2 cup into the stew liquid just before whisking it with the steamed couscous. If your harissa is particularly spicy or you prefer less heat, reduce the second addition of harissa.




Don't worry about the couscous falling through the steamer basket holes. By the time it's in the basket it's already coated with oil and partially hydrated, which binds it together enough to stay put. Also don't stir the stew during simmering. The vegetables hold their shape and flavor better when cooking on the surface.

1 hour 15 minutes

30 minutes active


  • 2

    cups medium couscous

  • 4

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra to serve


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Scott P.
February 24, 2024
Wonderful bright recipe with just the right amount of heat and variety (carrots/onions/potatoes).
simon f.
May 19, 2023
2 cups of water in & 2 cups of cooking liquid out? I barely got 1/4 cup of cooking liquid out.
Greg P.
February 7, 2024
Amazing recipe!
Huge crowd pleaser and it's easy to scale up if needed.
Amelia B.

Made the NORTH AFRICAN CHICKEN COUSCOUS for tonight's dinner. Wow!! So, so good! My mom and grandparents are from Algeria, so couscous was a main at our house. This was a different version and I will definitely be making it again. Thanks so much!!

Andrew S.

Fantastic recipe. Have made it multiple times and wouldn’t change a thing. Miraculously the couscous does not fall through the holes in the steamer basket!