When I was a little girl (a long, long time ago), I saw pictures and scenes from Morocco on television. Ever since then, I was stricken with the strong desire to go to Morocco to experience it myself, through my very own eyes. I thought the culture was rich and gorgeous. Their history was so colorful and their legends were…well, legendary. It was my number one travel destination for a while. It was emphasized when my parents went through a “couscous” phase. I remember constantly having it when I was younger. I imagine it was cheaper then and just as easy to cook. We eventually phased OUT of couscous.
Over the years, I changed my number one travel destination to Greece (for the same reason I love Morocco – the culture, the history, the scenery, and the mythology). Morocco, sadly got bumped down to number two. However, not too long ago, when I was staying over Terra Recycled’s place, we were brainstorming ideas on what to make for dinner. We eventually settled on some sort of Thai sauce over chicken. While we were browsing through the super huge supermarket aisles, my eyes caught onto couscous. She never had it. I convinced her we should have this with the chicken. She ended up loving it.
Ever since then, I had been itching to cook something with couscous because my love for it has re-grown. The other day, I thought of Morocco and thought, as a tribute to my childlike fascination with the country, I would make a dish inspired by the wondrous country. A recipe started to formulate in my mind…a beef stew that has been cooked over a low flame for a couple hours – flavored with onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, etc, etc. Spoon that over the quick-cooking couscous…hmm, my stomach was growling at the thought of it. It was one of the rare times I craved red meat.
Morocco and India share the same spices when making dishes so a lot of the ingredients that were needed to make the stew I already had on hand. I just had to buy beef, couscous, and stock.
- Chuck beef cut into bite-sized pieces
- Half of a large carrot
- Half of a can of sweet peas
- Half of a can of sweet corn
- Red wine vinegar
- A large tomato
- Half of a small can of tomato paste
- 4-5 red shallots (or 1 large onion) – diced
- 6-7 garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 pack of baby portobello mushrooms (or whatever mushrooms you want) – I sliced the mushroom caps and diced up most of the mushroom stems.
- 2-3 boxes of couscous (depends on how many you are feeding)
- Low-sodium beef broth
- Olive oil
- Paprika (about 2-3 Tb)
- Cumin (1 Tb)
- Chilli powder (3 Tb – adjust to your spice tolerance)
- Tumeric powder (2 Tb)
- Salt and pepper
- After chopping everything up, I first sauteed the onions, garlic, and chopped mushroom stems for about a minute or so, or until they’re soft. Meanwhile, I let the beef marinate in salt, pepper, and some red wine vinegar (don’t use too much!)
- When I felt like the marination time was up (in my mind, it might have been 15 minutes), I slowly added the beef to the pan with the shallot, garlic, and stems mixture. I wanted to brown the beef on all sides first.
- I removed the beef to a separate bowl and kept it warm while I added about half the container of beef broth (or two cans) to the pot. I added carrots, the spice mixture, tomato, and the tomato paste and brought it up to a boil, making sure the paste became close friends with the sauce.
- When it was all nicely incorporated, I added the beef back in to let it cook for a couple of hours on medium-low heat. I added salt and pepper according to the taste. A little later, I added the chives.
- Towards the end, I added 3/4 of the sliced mushrooms into the bubbling stew.
- Meanwhile, I cooked the couscous by simply following the instructions except instead of adding water, I replaced it with beef broth and added in the corn and sweet peas and the rest of the mushrooms to the boiling water. I added the couscous and fluffed it up until it looked deliciously golden.
- The stew should be done in a couple of hours. If you think that it looks a little runny, add a little cornstarch and mix it until it thickens up. If you do not have cornstarch, you can make a little roux with flour and butter and add it into the stew.
- Prepare a plate of couscous, spoon over the stew, and go to town, my loves!
Now…some pictures to make you guys salivate…
Now the moment you have all been waiting for…
My gosh…it was amazing. I finished the entire plate in just 5 minutes, despite the fact it was steaming hot. This is my idea of nostalgic, comfort food.
Go ahead, warm yourself with your bowl of comfort food and take a trip down memory lane.