World Cuisine

  • 500 g (1 lb) couscous
  • 600 ml (1 pint) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons smen (see page 20) or ghee
  • 1–2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1–2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons flaked almonds
  • 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 120 g (4 oz) ready-to-eat, dried apricots, roughly chopped
  • 120 g (4 oz) ready-to-eat prunes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons currants or raisins
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon icing sugar

Tip the couscous into an ovenproof dish. Mix together the measurement water, salt and saffron threads and pour over the couscous, stirring once to make sure the grains are evenly spread. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to stand for 10–15 minutes. Rake a fork through the couscous to break up the grains. Then, using your fingers, rub the oil into the grains until light, airy and any lumps are broken up.

Heat the smen or ghee in a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat, stir in the cumin and coriander seeds and cook for 1–2 minutes to flavour the smen. Add the nuts and cook for a further 1 minute, then add the dried fruit and toss to combine.

Add the nuts and fruit to the couscous and toss lightly to mix. Cover with a piece of damp greaseproof paper and place in a preheated oven, 180°C (350°F), Gas Mark 4, for 15–20 minutes.

Pile the couscous in a conical mound on a shallow serving dish and sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar – this is usually done in alternate stripes up and down the mound. Serve on its own or as an accompaniment to grilled and roasted meat and poultry.

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