North African Style Beef Stew with Sweet Cous Cous

We had friends around on Sunday and I wanted to do something a bit different to the usual Sunday lunch. I was thinking about reprising my spicy meatball tagine but when I discovered some reduced to clear diced beef at a rock bottom price in the supermarket, it was too good an opportunity to miss.

This served four with two packs of meat. Here’s how it’s done.

The Stew

First heat some olive oil in a large flat pan, chuck in teaspoonful of cumin seeds and heat until they start popping. Next chuck in the meat to brown then hoik it out and set aside.Put the pan back on the heat and chuck in a chopped onion, a chopped leek, three or four chopped chilis and about six smashed garlic cloves and let them sweat down a bit. It’s normally a good idea to turn the heat down a bit by now. Then chuck in some chopped mushrooms, about half a small shredded red cabbage and a diced carrot, stir about and then put the meat back in

Next add the seasoning; two teaspoons cumin powder, one of paprika and one of cinnamon, let that cook in before adding a can of chopped tomatoes. Add to that a good squeeze of harissa paste (I buy mine in a tube from a north African food store whenever I go to Edinburgh, much cheaper than getting it in a piddly little jar from a supermarket) a beef stock cube and the juice of a lemon. Quarter the squeezed lemon and throw that in too, it adds to the flavour. Leave to bubble away for about two hours, topping up with water whenever necessary to stop it drying out.

The Cous Cous.

Cous cous is really easy, tip some in a bowl and cover with boiling water and just leave it to hydrate for about five minutes. When ready fluff up with a fork.

Heat some oil in a pan add some chopped garlic, two chopped chilis, some flaked almonds, and some chopped up dried fruit (apricots and dates worked for me). Fry off for a bit hen chuck in the cous cous, give it a stir and it’s ready.

The Salad

Chop four plum tomatoes in to rough and ready pieces and chuck  in a bowl with a finely chopped red onion. Take a pack of supermarket coriander wash it, roll it into a bowl and chop finely stalks and all. Put most in the salad and save the rest to garnish the stew. Then take a pack of mint, wash it and strip the leaves from the stalks as the stalks are a bit woody. Roughly chop the leaves and in they go. chuck in a handful of pine nuts and its ready for dressing.

The dressing is simple: juice of a lemon and a glug of sesame oil with a chopped chili and a mashed garlic clove through it, into the salad bowl and give it a mix. The squeezed lemon can go in the stew while its cooking.

To Serve: spoon some of the sweet and savoury cous cous onto the plate add some of the stew (after discarding the lemon quarters) with a sprinkle of coriander over the top. serve with the salad and some flat bread like kobz or naan.

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