Pumpkin Couscous

October 21, 2009  •  Category:

I love to be able to get, in Dallas, Texas, from the comfort of home, a first-hand look at what is going on in Lebanon through satellite channels. This morning, I was watching LBC (Lebanon Broadcast Channel); they have a cooking segment entitled Sofra daymeh and the Chef was demonstrating how to do a pumpkin couscous, Morroccan-style.

Now we do have our own type of couscous in Lebanon; its grains are bigger. and the spices used are always caraway and cumin and we call it moghrabiyeh, which means “from the Maghreb”; however it is not at all like the north-african couscous. Its grains are much bigger. In the US, they call it “israeli couscous” for some reason!

Today, this couscous is the one from Morocco. To get more detailed information, I consulted Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and other good food from Morocco, a book I bought decades ago. She describes this couscous as being ultra-refined and rustic at the same time.  I liked the fact that you don’t need a zillion ingredients. Lamb, carrots, pumpkin, onion and raisins and chickpeas.

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  • 1  can cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1 pound of couscous
  • 1 1/2  pounds  lamb shanks, cut up by the butcher into smaller pieces
  • 2 large Spanish onions,sliced
  • salt, black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh ginger,grated(1 tablespoon)
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup sweet butter, clarified till a bit nutty in taste (golden brown in color)
  • 1 pound carrots, scraped and cut in 2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 pound black raisins


  1. Heat the butter in a large soup pot. Add the onions, sliced and the lamb shanks.
  2. Add the spices and  brown the lamb shanks.
  3. Add 2 quarts of water. Boil then reduce the heat and simmer for one hour.
  4. Add the carrots, raisins and sugar to the pot and cook another 30 minutes.
  5. Add the pumpkin and chickpeas to the pot and cook another 30 minutes.
  6. Prepare the couscous, using package directions and a portion of the broth from the pot.
  7. Serve.



After browning the lamb and onions and adding the stock and spices and cooking the mix for one hour, I let it cool and resume the cooking the next day. That way, I can remove all the fat that has congealed on the surface. I will keep some for the couscous grain later, and usually discard the rest ( unless I needed it for another dish, in which case I freeze it)


16 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. sabah says:

    It looks delicious and “Moroccan”, I personally love the small grain, they taste wonderful, thanks for sharing it with the world.

  2. sabah says:

    I forgot something, why don’t you participate a contest by my friend kouky, her blog is ” cuisine 4 mains” ?
    All that you need to do is, to leave a comment with the link of your couscous recipe,
    I am sure you will win because your couscous looks wonderful. If you are interested, just let me know, I will send you the link.

  3. Juliana says:

    Although I am a big fan of lamb, yours with couscous and the pumpkin looks very tempting.

  4. Rosa says:

    What a delicious and healthy dish! Great combo! I am a big fan of Moroccan food…



  5. Dana says:

    Bonjour Joumana! I love drinking my morning coffee while catching up with your blog after a long work week. As always, delightful and inspiring recipes.

    I cook a similar couscous stew (My mom’s recipe). You can prepare it with either chicken or lamb. I add to the veggies you mentioned above, whole baby zucchini or squash, pumpkin (or sweet potatoes), big chunks of leek, pearl onions, tender cabbage leaves (optional), and peeled garbanzo beans that you can add 10 minutes before u turn off the heat.

    I add to the spice mix mentioned in your recipe that goes into the stew a pinch of nutmeg and mild yellow curry. This is the quintessential winter meal …


    • Joumana says:

      Hi Dana!
      Your mom sounds like a very inspired and talented cook! I am so happy to have you as a faithful reader of my little blog and I love to read your comments and learn useful things from you. By the way, I got a comment on my zaatar flatbread post from a Lebanese lady who was asking me how to buy a saj grill. Any idea? I think she lives in the US.

  6. Dana says:

    Hi Joumana,

    Sorry for the late reply but this week has been crazily busy at work …

    It so happens that a couple of years ago, a friend of mine introduced me to this little hole in the wall indian cafe in Irving. There, I had the indian equivalent of markouk. I asked my friend today about the contraption used to cook the bread since it looks a lot like a saj:


    So, if your friend lives in the US, she might have better luck getting a saj by checking Indian specialty stores. She should ask about the pan used to prepare “roomali roti tava”. If she lives in the metroplex, she can try Taj Grocers (beltline and 75) or Sabzi mandi (springvalley and plano road).

    Hope this helps!!

    • Joumana says:

      WOW! Dana, you are amazing! This is a lady who sent me a comment, so I am going to post your link on that post (zaatar flatbread) and hope she checks it. This is so exciting! I am going to go check it out asap!
      Thanks a million!

  7. charlotte says:

    Wow, second time looking at your blog and second time a winner recipe. I make couscous all the time. All different ways and I make my own preserved lemon. Even though my heritage is with Israeli cooking, I am totally loving you spice combos and methods of cooking. I will be using this recipe with pleasure. I have a Moroccan cookbook that is quite complicated but delicious and I use it a lot in the summer. Your recipes are much easier . We sampled many Arabic restaurants in Israel and Egypt and all of them were great. This brings back happy memories.

  8. Valerie says:

    this is the one we make at home (my in-laws are from Morrocco)
    and it is one or maybe my favorite

  9. domi says:

    Un couscous qui doit être bien agréable à déguster avec des amis et du vin rosé…

  10. Amira says:

    Hi! Thanks for posting this recipe just bought a giant pumpkin half for pumpkin bread and half for this. Tried it the first time in Lebanon around this time last year, and forgot to ask my mil for the recipe, I dont bave lamb and dont quite like the taste anyways so I made it without, and I’m using my instant pot to cook everything so it wont take so long…waiting for the results lol #hungry

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