Algerian Couscous


This recipe is made with mutton and chicken, but you can easily change the meats for lamb and/or merguez. I make this often and my family loves it!

close up view of Algerian Couscous with carrots, chickpeas, zucchini and chicken on a white plate
Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 7 mins
Additional Time:
5 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 42 mins
10 servings


  • ¼ cup olive oil, or more as needed, divided

  • 8 mutton chops, fat removed

  • 4 chicken drumsticks

  • 1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 3 onions, quartered

  • water to cover

  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander

  • 3 potatoes, cut into chunks

  • 3 turnips, cut into chunks

  • 3 carrots, sliced lengthwise and cut into chunks

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons ras el hanout

  • 1 (7 ounce) can chickpeas, drained

  • 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into chunks

  • 5 sprigs cilantro, chopped


  • 3 cups water

  • 2 cups couscous

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 3 tablespoons harissa


  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Season mutton chops and chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper; cook in batches with onions in the hot oil until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate.

  2. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release browned bits. Return mutton chops and chicken to the pot. Pour in enough water to cover; add turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer for 20 minutes.

  3. Stir potatoes, turnips, and carrots into the pot. Simmer, covered, until vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in tomato paste and ras el hanout; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in chickpeas, zucchini, and cilantro; continue cooking, covered, until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

  4. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan; remove from heat and stir in couscous and butter. Cover saucepan and let stand until water is absorbed completely, 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil. Transfer to a serving dish.

  5. Ladle 2 scoops of cooking liquid into a bowl; mix in harissa until smooth.

  6. Scoop vegetables onto a serving plate. Scoop mutton and chicken onto a separate plate. Serve alongside couscous, harissa sauce, and remaining cooking liquid in the pot.

Cook's Notes:

For homemade ras el hanout, mix: 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional).

Harissa can usually be found in Mediterranean stores or butchers.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

492 Calories
16g Fat
57g Carbs
31g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10
Calories 492
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 358mg 16%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 21%
Dietary Fiber 8g 30%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 34mg 170%
Calcium 99mg 8%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 1087mg 23%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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