Tunisian Couscous

Tunisian couscous is a classic traditional dish that is comforting and flavorful. The couscous is steamed and served with meat, vegetables, and chickpeas.

What is Couscous?

Couscous is a staple in most Maghreb cuisines. It is known as the national dish in Tunisia, but also in Algeria and Morocco, as well as Mauritania and Libya. Tunisian couscous is one of the countless variations of this delicious and versatile dish.

It is thought that the original name of couscous (Arabic: كسكس) could have come from the Arabic word kaskasa, which means “to pound in small pieces” or from the Berber word seksu, which means “rounded” or “well rolled”.

It is called kousksi in Tunisia, taamkosksi, or kesksu in Algeria, seksu in Morocco, and maftoul in Jordan and Lebanon. It is also used in Sicily where it is known as cuscusu.

Couscous is made from small durum semolina balls that are crushed and steamed. The color of the couscous is generally orange to red depending on the amount of meat broth and harissa that is added to it.

Tunisian Couscous Recipe

In Tunisia as in Algeria, there are a thousand and one ways to prepare couscous, in the coastal cities including Sfax we like to prepare couscous fish. In other areas, it is more often consumed with lamb and dried fruit.

The trickiest part of this recipe is preparing the vegetables. Therefore, here is a step-by-step guide on preparing the vegetables included in Tunisian Couscous.

– Potatoes: You will need about two medium-sized potatoes. First, you will wash and peel the potatoes. Then cut the potatoes lengthwise in half. To prevent the potatoes from turning black while you prep the other ingredients, soak them in a bowl of cold water and salt.

– Carrots: Wash and peel the carrots. Then cut them lengthwise in half.

– Zucchini: Wash the zucchini and slice the ends. Then cut each zucchini lengthwise into quarters.

– Pumpkin:  You will want to slice the pumpkin into quarters and remove the seeds. If you can’t find a pumpkin, you can substitute it with squash or kabocha instead.

– Chilli Peper: Tunisian couscous is usually spicy and includes chili pepper or harissa.

How To Make Tunisian Couscous

In a cooking pot over medium-low heat, add the olive oil and allow it to get hot. Then add the onions and garlic and seer for 3-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent in color.

Then, add the beef fondue, paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric, salt, pepper, and ground ginger. Seer the beef for 3-5 minutes to brown the sides of the meat.

Afterward, add all the vegetables, and tomato paste and pour boiling water into the cooking pot until all the vegetables are covered in water. Next, cover the cooking pot with the lid and allow the pot to simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

Now check the doneness of the vegetable. You can do this by inserting a fork into each vegetable. If the fork easily slides through the vegetable, it means it is cooked. Remove any cooked vegetables and set them aside for later.

Then, cook the meat for another 15 minutes and recheck the remaining vegetables. Remove any cooked vegetables, add the chickpeas and cook the meat for another 15 minutes with the lid on.

Once the meat is cooked, separate the meat and chickpeas from the chicken broth and set them aside for assembling.

Cooking the Couscous:

Cooking the couscous depends on the couscous brand you purchased. Read the package instructions to know how much liquid is needed to steam the couscous.

Then, add meat broth equal to the liquid measurement written on the package in a cooking pot and bring it to a boil.

Then, turn the heat off and add the couscous. Stir the couscous and immediately cover the cooking pot.

Allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes without disturbing it. Then fluff the couscous using a fork to separate the granules.

Serving Tunisian Couscous

Tunisian couscous is traditionally served with fish, chicken, or red meat. A friendly and family dish with great flavors especially if we add the green peppers.

Arrange in a deep plate serving, make a well in the center and arrange the meat, as well as the vegetables around. Sprinkle with the sauce not too much you can add it during the tasting.

Be Sure to Try These Other Authentic Tunisian Dishes!

Be sure to recreate this incredible delicacy. Enjoy your Tunisian couscous!

Tunisian Couscous

Mike Benayoun
Tunisian couscous is one of the countless variations of this delicious and versatile North African dish, which consists of semolina served with a broth made with meat and vegetables.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine north african, Tunisian
Servings 6


  • Tajine pot


  • 2 lb lamb stew meat cut into large pieces
  • 6 cups couscous fine semolina or medium
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons harissa
  • 2 tablespoons ground caraway
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 4 turnips cut in half
  • 6 medium carrots peeled
  • 4 zucchini peeled lengthwise, alternately leaving a layer of skin
  • 6 small potatoes peeled
  • 10 oz. chickpeas canned
  • 4 green hot peppers fried in oil (optional)
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Add ½ cup (120ml) of oil into a large pan. Fry the onion over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, tomato paste and harissa and continue frying for 2 minutes.
  • Add the caraway, coriander, and chili powder. Mix and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the lamb meat and mix well so that the pieces are covered with the sauce. Cook for 5 minutes stirring regularly.
  • Cover with water. Add the turnips and carrots, and cook on low/medium heat for 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the couscous semolina as indicated on the package, with boiling water, salt, and oil.
  • After 45 minutes, add the zucchini, potatoes and chickpeas.
  • Cook for at least another 30 to 40 minutes over low to medium heat. Monitor the cooking of the vegetables. If some vegetables are cooked before the meat, remove them from the pan and place them on a serving platter. Proceed in the same way with all the vegetables to prevent them from cooking too much.
  • 10 minutes before the end of cooking, get a few ladles of broth (one at a time) and wet the couscous semolina. Mix the semolina well after each ladle until it gets moistened enough.
  • Arrange the semolina in a tajine pot. Decorate the dish with the vegetables and the meat all around. Garnish with fried green hot peppers (optional).
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Blessing Funmilayo Ogunsanya
Hello, my name is Funmilayo, and i love to write about food, beauty, fashion and wellness. So welcome to my Food world! I share histories, discoveries, uniqueness, tips, and tricks on different dishes .Come let's take this adventure together. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do and hope to see you back here again soon.

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