This Algerian lamb shoulder stew with couscous is a "one steamer" recipe. My friend, Farida, taught me how to make this authentic Algerian recipe. This tender lamb shoulder is slow-cooked in a variety of vegetables then poured on top of fluffy twice steamed couscous. The fluffy couscous is made in the same steamer as the lamb stew just right above it, so it's infused with flavor from the stew.
- Lamb shoulder or veal shoulder: I prefer the meat to have the bone, however, this dish can be made without the bone too. The bone adds flavor to the broth. Make sure the meat is cut into large pieces. The chunks of meat cook relatively around the same time as the couscous steams, so everything is ready around the same time.
- Dry couscous: This recipe needs regular dry couscous and not instant couscous. If using instant couscous, just follow the instructions on the package and make the stew in a separate pot.
- Vegetables: The meat is stewed with minced garlic, onions, tomato, carrots, turnips, zucchini, and fresh green beans.
- Herbs: Freshly chopped parsley and fresh mint are added to the stew.
- Oil and ghee: Olive oil is used for the couscous and ghee is used to brown the meat. Alternatively olive can be used to brown the meat as well.
- Tomato paste: Any type of tomato paste will work for this recipe.
- Seasonings: The lamb shoulder stew is seasoned with fresh ground pepper, salt, paprika, ground coriander powder, a bay leaf, and a tad bit of sugar.
You will also need:
- Steamer pot
- Chef's knife and cutting board
- Large bowl (to rub the couscous with your hands)
Tips For Making Lamb Shoulder Stew
The biggest tip for making this lamb stew is preparing all of the ingredients ahead of time. Separate the ingredients just like the image below to streamline cooking the stew.
- Season the meat with spices. In a steamer pot, add olive oil, frying oil, or ghee. Brown the meat. Add the minced onions and garlic and cover for 5 minutes. Add the pureed tomato, mint leaves, chopped parsley, tomato paste, and bay leaf. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the carrots, zucchini, and turnips. Mix well and cover for 2 minutes.
- Add water to cover the vegetables and lamb. Simmer on medium to medium-high heat for the next hour or until the meat is tender. Cook the couscous on the steamer tray above.
- While the lamb shoulder stew is cooking, boil the green beans in a separate pot for about 10 minutes. Strain the green beans. Add the green beans to the stew at the end once the stew is finished.
Tips For Couscous
- You can use dry couscous or instant couscous. If using dry couscous, follow these instructions for how to cook couscous in a steamer. If using instant couscous, follow the instructions on the bag.
- Save time by steaming couscous in the steamer tray right above the lamb stew.
- The steamer tray will have holes larger than the couscous. This is normal and very little couscous will actually fall through the holes.
- The couscous is prepared at the same time as the stew is simmering. I prefer steaming the couscous above the stew for ultra fluffy and flavorful couscous.
A Note On The History Of Couscous
Farida was kind enough to explain some of the origin and history of couscous in her note below.
Yennayer, which for the etymologists of the Amazigh language means “the first month”, marks the beginning of the Berber year or the Amazigh year used since antiquity by the Berbers in North Africa. Its first day corresponds to the first day of January of the Julian Calendar, which is shifted thirteen days compared to the Gregorian calendar. For this occasion, several traditional dishes can be prepared but couscous remains the most popular to celebrate Yennayer.
Couscous is a traditional dish very popular in the countries of North Africa. The origin of couscous is often attributed by historians to the Berber tradition. Being a descendant of the Berber of Kabylia myself, I had the chance to inherit from a young age this knowledge from my mother who herself inherited it from her mother.
At a young age, I used to lay everything out on the table to practice rolling couscous from scratch using fine semolina, water, and two different sieves. Precise hand gestures and steps must be followed to achieve good regular grits. These grains are then steamed twice and must be handled with delicacy in order to keep the lightness of the couscous.
It is true that nowadays it is easy to find ready-to-use dry couscous. But most Berber women and Kabyles especially, roll their couscous themselves at home mainly during the summertime, to dry it in the open air and keep it for the winter. These women also gather to prepare large quantities for weddings especially, which adds a particularly festive atmosphere to these celebrations.
This dish, which can be tasted sweet or salty, is prepared for everyday meals, but also for most events throughout the year. The couscous is adapted according to the vegetables of the season. We can therefore prepare the sauce with dried beans, chickpeas, or with pumpkin or cardoon during fall or wintertime. It is often served with hot pepper for spicy lovers.
It is also traditional to prepare couscous without sauce, it is then steamed with peas, fava beans, or a mixture of different vegetables. The sweet version is prepared with dried fruits like raisins, generally, they are served with a glass of sour milk (leban) usually for the suhoor of the holy month of Ramadan.
How To Store
Store couscous and lamb stew in separate containers in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat the stew in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop. The couscous is best reheated in the microwave.
Other Steamer Recipes
Are you looking for other recipes you can make using your steamer? Other steamer recipes to try are Chinese steamed buns, steamed sweet potatoes, and steamed crab legs.Print