This Moroccan-inspired harissa lamb chili with couscous is a perfect blend of spiced ground lamb, carrots, golden raisins, tomatoes, chickpeas, and couscous. This "one-steamer" meal is made by preparing the lamb chili on the bottom of the steamer and the couscous on the steamer tray on top. What you end up with are a twice steamed infused fluffy couscous and a hearty flavorful harissa chili.
This is not a Moroccan recipe, but a fusion of Moroccan-inspired flavors blended with American-style chili. What I'm saying is, this isn't authentic but it tastes damn delicious.
What I Love About This Recipe
I love using different spices and flavors in my kitchen, and this harissa lamb chili does not disappoint. This recipe reheats well, so it's a great meal to batch prepare for weeknight dinners or lunches. My favorite part of this lamb chili is the golden raisins, so try not to leave them out! There are several steps to make this lamb chili with couscous, so I've detailed them step-by-step below in sequential order.
- Ground lamb: The best meat to use for this meal is ground lamb, however, substitute ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken if desired.
- Dry couscous: It's important to buy dry couscous and not instant couscous if steaming the couscous above the lamb chili. If you aren't using a steamer pot to steam the couscous, then buy instant couscous and prepare it as per the instructions on the package.
- Golden raisins: I highly recommend using golden raisins in this lamb chili. Regular brown raisins are not the exact same flavor, however if that's all that you can find, you can substitute it.
- Harissa: I found two types of harissa at my grocery store, and they taste different. The harissa adobo has a smoky deeper flavor whereas the mina harissa is brighter in flavor. Use any type of harissa that you like either store-bought or homemade. Both of the harissa jars that I purchased are not spicy. Another place to buy harissa is on Amazon or in a Middle Eastern grocery store.
Optional: Canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and kale are optional ingredients. I highly recommend adding the canned chickpeas, however, if kale is not your thing, omit it. I'm trying to get more vegetables in my recipes, so I added kale.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Harissa Lamb Chili With Couscous
Weigh out 16 oz. of dry couscous. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rub the couscous well with your hands to coat the grain with olive oil. Add 1.5 cups of water, and without stirring, leave the couscous to absorb the liquid for 10 minutes.
Peel and chop the onions, garlic, and carrots. In the steamer stovetop pot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil on high heat. Sautee the chopped onions and garlic. Add the ground lamb.
Break up the lamb clumps for about 2 minutes. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, salt. Add the chopped carrots, canned tomatoes, harissa, golden raisins, and 8 cups of water (or beef broth). Bring to a boil.
Hint: Keep boiling the chili on high or medium-high for about 40 to 45 minutes total. Add more liquid if needed.
While the harissa lamb chili is boiling, prepare the couscous. Add the swollen couscous to the steamer tray. Place the couscous steamer tray uncovered on top of the boiling lamb chili pot. Once you see steam coming off the couscous, set a 5-minute timer.
Hint: Do not cover the couscous while it's steaming.
After the couscous has steamed for 5 minutes, pour the couscous from the steamer tray into a bowl. Continue to cook the lamb chili with a cover.
Add 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix with a spoon and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
Wash and chop the cilantro and kale. Add the canned chickpeas, kale, and cilantro to the lamb chili. Check the consistency of the chili and add extra liquid if needed.
Pour the couscous onto the steamer tray for a second steam above the lamb chili. Once you start seeing steam coming off the top of the couscous, start a 5-minute timer.
Hint: Boil the chili on high or medium-high while steaming the couscous.
At the end of 5 minutes, remove the couscous from the steamer tray. Once the carrots are tender and the kale is wilted, remove the chili from the stovetop.
Tips and Tricks
- Use ground lamb. The best ground meat to use for this chili is ground lamb.
- For the fluffiest couscous, steam the dry couscous above the harissa chili.
- Gather the ingredients in one place. There are many ingredients to this recipe, so gathering the ingredients at the beginning in one location will make things easier.
- If the lamb chili is cooking too quickly, turn the stovetop setting down.
Variations and Substitutions
- Make it spicy. Add chili flakes or spicy harissa.
- Swap sweet potatoes for carrots. If using sweet potatoes, add them in the chili at the mid way point so they aren't overcooked.
- Use instant couscous. If you don't have a steamer, use instant couscous and prepare it as per the package instructions.
I recommend using a steamer pot with a steamer tray in order to steam the couscous above the lamb chili. If you don't have a steamer pot with a steamer tray, make the lamb chili in a regular stovetop pot.
Also, the steamer tray should have small holes drilled that are larger than the couscous grains. A little bit of couscous will fall through the holes but not a lot.
Store the couscous separate from the lamb chili in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Freeze the lamb chili for up to 3 months in a freezer-friendly container. I don't recommend freezing the couscous.
Ground lamb combined with carrots, golden raisins, chickpeas, kale, and cilantro is a delicious way to prepare a Moroccan-inspired fusion chili.
No, couscous is made from semolina whereas rice is a grain.
Couscous is technically pasta. It's made from semolina flour made from durum wheat.
Hearty Main Dishes
Delicious Lamb Recipes
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Harissa Lamb Chili With Couscous
Harissa Lamb Chili
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 29 ounces canned tomatoes
- 15 ounces canned garbanzo beans aka chickpeas
- 2 cups chopped onion 1 large onion or 2 small onions
- 1½ cups chopped carrots 1 bunch of organic carrots
- 3 cups chopped kale 5 large kale leaves
- ⅓ cup dried golden raisins
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoon harissa** see notes
- ½ tablespoon ground cumin
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- salt to taste
- 8 to 10 cups beef stock or water for the lamb chili
- 1 lb dry couscous
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2½ cups water for the couscous
Harissa Lamb Chili
- Peel and chop onions, garlic, and carrots. Sautee the onions and garlic in a stovetop pot on medium-high heat with olive oil. Add the ground lamb breaking up the clumps with a spatula.
- Once the lamb has turned brown, add the ground cumin, ground coriander, and salt. Mix well. Add the chopped carrots, canned tomatoes, harissa, golden raisins, and 8 cups of water (or beef broth). Bring to a boil and cover with a lid or a steamer tray. Cook for 35 minutes.
- Chop cilantro and kale. Add the canned chickpeas, chopped cilantro, and chopped kale. Continue cooking for another 10 minutes covered until the carrots are tender and the kale is wilted.
- If using instant couscous, prepare as per instructions on the package.
- If using dry couscous, weigh out 16 oz. of dry couscous into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Mix the couscous in between your hands until the grains have been coated with olive oil. Add 1.5 cups of room temperature water to the couscous without stirring. Leave the couscous for 10 minutes for it to absorb the liquid and fluff up.
- Add the couscous to a steamer tray. Place the couscous on top of the boiling lamb chili (keeping the couscous uncovered). Once the couscous has steam coming off the top of it, start a 5-minute timer.
- Pour the couscous into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 cup of water. Mix with a spoon. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Pour the couscous back into the steamer tray. Place it back on top of the lamb chili.
- Steam a second time for 5 minutes keeping the couscous uncovered. Pour the couscous into a bowl and add more salt and olive oil if desired.
- There are many types of harissa, so use whichever one you prefer.
- Substitute ground beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken for ground lamb if desired.