Cous cous is a typical and traditional staple in the western regions of north-Africa, the so-called Maghreb, and is made from durum wheat. From the north-African regions, it travelled to Europe (notably to Sicily, France, Spain) and to the Middle East.
Cous cous is a basic food that is used to accompany vegetable or meat stews. It is also a great base for salads, which can be used in turn to accompany meat or fish courses. This is a vegetarian version that I experimented on my own (using pre-steamed and dried cous cous), but believe me: there could be as many recipes as households!
What you need (for two people):
200 gr. cous cous 200 gr. water 4 shallots 1 yellow pepper 1 aubergine a bunch of wild rocket a handful of celery leaves 80 gr. panir 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 teaspoon cumin ½ stick cinnamon 6 walnuts black pepper olive oil
How you do it:
Dice the aubergine, mix with coarse sea salt, and put in a colander under an heavy weight, to drain off the bitter, dark liquid, for at least an hour. Cut the pepper in small squares and chop the shallots. Coarsely ground the walnuts, grind the seeds and the cinnamon.
In a capacious pan, heat some oil, throw in the spices and after a minute, add the diced pepper and aubergine, and the walnuts. Follow the instructions to prepare the cous cous. Typically you place it in a shallow dish and cover it with hot water. Let rest for a few minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are fluffy and well separated.
In a big bowl, mix the cous cous with the vegetables (add some oil if it looks 'dry') and add the shallots and the rocket and celery leaves, tearing them in pieces with your hands. Finally add some medium-soft panir and mix delicately.