Vegetarian Cous Cous Recipe From Algeria

Introduction to Vegetarian Couscous from Algeria

Couscous, a pillar of North African cuisine, has its origins deeply rooted in Berber traditions. This versatile grain, often mistaken as rice or grain, is actually a type of pasta. While the dish is popular throughout North Africa, Algerian couscous stands out with its unique blend of spices, vegetables, and methods of preparation. Opting for a vegetarian version allows the rich variety of Algerian vegetables and spices to truly shine, offering a light yet deeply flavorful dish.

History of Couscous in Algeria

The history of couscous in Algeria dates back to ancient Berber civilizations. Couscous became a staple because of its ease of preparation and versatility. Cooked atop a stew in a special pot called a ‘couscoussier’, it absorbs the flavors of the stew as it steams. Over centuries, regional variations developed, and the Algerian version became renowned for its incorporation of a wide array of spices and vegetables. As trade and migration spread its fame, couscous found its way into many global kitchens, but the Algerian vegetarian couscous remains a unique masterpiece of this culinary journey.

Ingredients and Quantities for Vegetarian Couscous

Preparing Algerian vegetarian couscous requires a selection of fresh vegetables and spices to achieve its signature flavor:

  • 2 cups of couscous
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 zucchinis, cubed
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of chickpeas, soaked and boiled
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro and mint for garnish

In-depth Directions for Preparing Vegetarian Couscous

Creating an authentic Algerian vegetarian couscous involves a methodical layering of flavors:

  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent.
  2. Add the carrots, zucchinis, and bell pepper to the pot. Stir well to ensure they’re coated with the olive oil and onions.
  3. Once the vegetables begin to soften, stir in the chickpeas, cumin, coriander powder, paprika, chili powder (if using), salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. While the vegetables are simmering, prepare the couscous as per the package instructions. Typically, this involves steaming it over boiling water until it’s light and fluffy.
  6. Once both the vegetable mixture and couscous are fully cooked, fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer it to a large serving dish.
  7. Pour the vegetable mixture over the couscous, ensuring it’s evenly distributed.
  8. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and mint for an added burst of flavor.


Algerian vegetarian couscous is more than just a dish; it’s a reflection of the rich cultural tapestry and history of Algeria. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just looking to explore the flavors of North Africa, this dish offers a delightful culinary experience that is both wholesome and satisfying. The mingling of spices, fresh vegetables, and perfectly steamed couscous creates a symphony of flavors that will transport you straight to the heart of Algeria.

Frequently Asked Questions about Vegetarian Couscous

What is the difference between Algerian couscous and other North African variants?

While the basic preparation remains similar, each North African region has its distinct blend of spices and accompanying ingredients. Algerian couscous often has a richer array of vegetables and a unique blend of spices.

Can I add other vegetables to this recipe?

Absolutely! The beauty of this dish lies in its versatility. You can add or replace vegetables based on personal preference or seasonal availability.

Is there a difference between couscous and Israeli couscous?

Yes, Israeli couscous, or pearl couscous, is larger in size and has a chewier texture compared to the fine grains of traditional couscous.

How do I store leftover vegetarian couscous?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep well for 2-3 days.

Can I use this recipe as a base for non-vegetarian versions?

Of course! While this recipe celebrates the vegetarian version, you can easily add meats like lamb or chicken to create a non-vegetarian variant.

Siti Bane
Siti Bane
Emerging from Africa's diverse culinary landscape, Siti Bane, in her mid-40s, epitomizes the essence of the continent's rich gastronomic heritage. As the Blog Editor for 70recipes, she marries tradition with modernity, inviting readers to experience the true flavors of Africa.

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