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Shared by Arielle (Nir) Mamiye and Efrat Navon

Hand-Rolled Couscous

Yield: 8 to 10 servingsTime: 1 h active + 4 h inactive + soaking

Hand-Rolled Couscous

Yield: 8 to 10 servingsTime: 1 h active + 4 h inactive + soaking

Family Journey

Atlas Mountains, MoroccoCasablancaJerusalem area, Israel
AshdodNew York

This recipe was shared by Arielle (Nir) Mamiye and Efrat Navon. Read more about their family in "A Moroccan Grandmother's Love Is Rolled Into Her Couscous" and try their recipe for rifat (Moroccan tea biscuits).


For the soup

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 1 ½ pounds chicken drumsticks and thighs, bone-in skin-on
  • 1 ½ pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, deseeded and chopped into large pieces of about 3 x 2 inches
  • 1 green cabbage, sliced into about 8 wedges
  • 2 zucchinis, peeled with stripes and cut crosswise into 3 inch long pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 3 inch pieces 
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped crosswise into 3 inch pieces 
  • 1 kohlrabi, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • 1 bunch parsley, tied with butcher's twine
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 to 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

For the couscous

  • 5 cups (2 pounds) semolina
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup + 2 cups room temperature water, divided
  • ½ cup vegetable oil 

Special equipment

Couscoussier pot

Cooking ProjectsMain CoursesSoups & StewsMeat North Africa


  • Step 1

    Place the chickpeas in a bowl and cover completely with room temperature water. Set aside to soak overnight, or for at least 8 hours.

  • Step 2

    Strain the chickpeas from the soaking liquid and rinse with water. Place the chickpeas into a pot and cover with about 4 cups of water, or enough to completely submerge the chickpeas. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue simmering the chickpeas for about 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes until tender. Strain and set chickpeas aside. Discard the cooking liquid. 

  • Step 3

    Make the soup: Place the chickpeas into the bottom of the lower pot of the couscoussier. Add the chicken, pumpkin, cabbage, zucchinis, carrots, celery, and kohlrabi into the pot. Cover with water until the water reaches 1 inch below the top edge of the pot. Add parsley, turmeric, salt and pepper. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil, about 20 to 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium low and place a lid on the pot. Continue cooking the soup with a gentle simmer.

  • Step 4

    Make the couscous: Place the semolina and kosher salt into an extra large mixing bowl. Mix with your fingers to combine. Set 1 cup of water and a seperate cup with ½ cup of oil to the side of the mixing bowl. Place your fingertips into the cup of water and sprinkle water droplets over the semolina and salt mixture, repeat again and sprinkle another round of water into the bowl. Start stirring the mixture with your hand, pressing down and moving the palm in a circular motion. Continue adding droplets of water, a few splashes at a time, and stirring with your hand until the water is well incorporated into the semolina mixture. It is better to add less water at a time to prevent any large clumps. At this point small to medium granules should form in the bowl. Using the same technique as the water, add the oil into the mixture a few droplets at a time, and stirring the mixture with the palm of your hand. After all the oil is incorporated there should be many medium sized granules. Place the sieve over another extra large bowl. Pour half of the semolina mixture into the sieve. Shake the sieve to sift out the semolina mixture into tiny granules. Use your palms to gently press the semolina mixture through the sieve in a circular motion until all the semolina has been sifted through. There may be some large clumps that will not pass the sieve, discard these lumps. Add the remaining semolina mixture into the sieve and repeat the sifting process, until all the mixture is passed through. 

  • Step 5

    Steam the couscous: Increase the heat of the soup to medium and make sure it is actively simmering. Remove the lid from the soup pot and add the steamer extension over the pot. Transfer the sifted semolina mixture into the steamer, poke about 6 holes through the semolina mixture with the back of a spoon to allow steam to enter. Place a lid over the couscoussier and steam the couscous for 45 minutes. Transfer the steamed couscous into an extra large mixing bowl and immediately pour 2 cups of room temperature water over the mixture. Use a fork to stir the mixture and set aside for 30 minutes. Stir the couscous with a fork every 10 minutes while it rests, about 2 times. This step ensures that the couscous will be tender at the end of the cooking process. Transfer the couscous back into the steamer and cover with a lid, no need to poke holes through the couscous this time. Cover with the lid and steam for another 20 minutes. Transfer the couscous into an extra large mixing bowl. Set aside. Remove soup from the heat, discard parsley, and set the pot aside. At this point the soup is ready after about 2 hours and 30 minutes of cooking. Let the couscous cool completely, for about 1 ½ hours, stirring with a fork occasionally, about 4 times. Once the couscous is completely cool, sift it through the sieve into an extra large bowl until all of the mixture is passed through and forms tiny couscous granules.

  • Step 6

    About 20 minutes before serving, place the soup over medium to low heat and simmer to reheat. About 10 minutes before serving, transfer the couscous into the steamer and steam until warm, about 5 to 10 minutes. 

  • Step 7

    To serve, place a mound of couscous into a serving or individual bowl. Add vegetables and chicken from the soup on top of the couscous. Pour a few ladles of the soup over the bowl and serve hot. 

Cook’s Notes: 

- It is optional to sear the chicken before adding into the soup. For Step #3, before adding the chickpeas into the pot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place the pot over medium high heat. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of salt over all the drumsticks and place them into the hot pot. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes each side. Add the chickpeas into the pot and follow with the rest of the ingredients and steps.

- Couscous can be placed in an airtight container or bag and stored in the freezer for up to 3 month. To reheat, defrost the couscous in the refrigerator overnight. To serve, steam the couscous for about 5 to 10 minutes until warm.