Couscous with lamb and vegetables

When I first arrived to Madrid and meet my in-laws my mother in law used to make the best couscous ever. Last week I tried to emulate her recipe and although the result probably wasn’t as good as hers, it was pretty good…

I hope you enjoy this version, following the Moroccan style.

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Lamb broth

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons for sauté
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • Large pinch saffron
  • 1 Tbs ground ginger
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper; more for the shanks
  • 2 tsp salt and a bit more for the shanks
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 kg lamb shanks (2 or 3 shanks)
  • 2 tomatoes, cut in large dice
  • 2 small turnips (or parsnips), peeled and cut in large dice
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 sprigs each of fresh cilantro and parsley, tied with kitchen twine


  • 8 baby carrots, peeled (or 2 small carrots, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 500 g squash, peeled, seeded, and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 1/4 medium white cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
  • 6 baby eggplant (or 1/2 medium globe eggplant), cut in 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 4 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and diced
  • One large jar (425g) chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 cups couscous


In purity, we are supposed to steam the couscous, using a traditional method of double boiler and rubbing the grains with our hands. But I opted for the easy way and made the couscous following the instructions on the box and substituted part of the boiling water with the lamb broth.

Start by seasoning the meat with salt and pepper and sealing it in a large pan. Meanwhile mix 1/2 cup of the olive oil with onions, spices, salt, and garlic and add this mixture to the pan with the meat. Stir well and cook on low for about 5 minutes.

Next add tomatoes, turnips, and red pepper, stir to coat, and cook until the tomatoes are soft, then add bay leaf and tied herbs and cover with water (about 10 cups). Cover the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lamb pulls off the bone easily, about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Transfer the lamb to a platter and cover with foil. Continue simmering the broth until it’s full-flavored and reduced to about 8 cups. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Discard the tied herbs, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Spoon off the fat that collects on the surface. Reserve. You may make the broth the day before (I did) and finish it the next day before lunch (or dinner).

Next, let’s start with the couscous. Follow the instructions on the box, which normally will be a proportion of 1/1 couscous/water, but in this case I suggest you substitute at least one cup of water for one cup of broth. Once the grain has fluffed, melt butter in a small pan and mix it with chickpeas, raisins and cinnamon and add this mixture to the couscous.

Bring the lamb broth back to a boil, add carrots, sweet potato, and squash. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the cabbage and eggplant. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pull the lamb meat off the shanks, and cut into bite-size pieces. Add the zucchini to the broth and simmer until all the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Return the lamb to the broth , taste and add salt and pepper, if needed.

Finally, place the couscous into a large plate, make a hole in the middle and arrange there the veggies with meat and a bit of sauce. Serve with individual bowls of broth and harissa sauce.


5 Replies to “Couscous with lamb and vegetables”

    1. Hola MD! Muchas gracias por tu mensaje!! La vida cotidiana me puede y no encuentro momentos para escribir, pero sigo estando presente! 😅 Otro abrazo grande para ti, y feliz Navidad!! 🎄

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