July 17, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Northern, Middle & Eastern Africa | Leave a comment

Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa and right next door to Algeria and Morocco and – as we’ll see – shares much of the gorgeous food of the region.  Jammed right up against the Mediterranean Sea, it’s cuisine reflects a rich history of trading and invasion from a range of different cultures.  However, one particularly important aspect that  I think is under-reflected in Wikipedia is that most of Raiders of The Lost Ark was shot on location in Tunisia.    So, clearly a fantastic country.

Tunisia is also the source of the seed of the Arab Spring, a series of revolutions currently sweeping through the Middle East.  The Tunisians kicked out a corrupt dictator who’s most notable feature seems to be to have a wife with her own personal state-sponsored shopping Boeing (for visiting Milan, Paris, etc.).   Let’s hope they turn the home of Indiana Jones (as it will forever be known to me) into a better place.

The Plan

Tunisia’s national dish is couscous, and we’ll use a recipe I found from The Kitchen Witch.

Tunisian Couscous with Chicken

  • 500g chicken, cubed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1½ tsp. cumin
  • 1½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 100g tomato paste
  • 2 cups water or more if needed
  • 2 tbsp. harissa (or more to taste)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into 3″ pieces, then halved if large
  • 4 cups cubed butternut pumpkin
  • 2 zucchini sliced 1/2 ” thick then quartered
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 200g plain couscous, uncooked
  • A bunch of coriander


  1. Add oil to a pan and brown the chicken in batches, remove from the pan as cooked. You need to do this in batched to prevent the chicken from cooling the pan and broiling instead of browning.
  2. Add the diced onion and all the spices and fry briskly for 1-2 minutes, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan.
  3. Add the tomato paste and 1 cup of water to deglaze the pan. Add just enough water to cover the chicken.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Add more water if necessary and add the carrots. Simmer for another 15 minutes
  6. Add the pumpkin and harissa sauce, simmer for another 10 minutes
  7. Add the zucchini, chickpeas and raisons and simmer for another 10 minutes.
  8. While the chickpeas are cooking, make the couscous according to the instructions on the packet.
  9. Stir in the coriander into the chicken and turn off the heat.
  10. Add a scoop of couscous to each plate, making a well in the middle. Ladle the stew into the middle.

The Event

Pressed for time, I skipped step 4 and just bunged in all the vegies then. I also made *far* too much couscous (reduced quantities now in the recipe above) and used too much salt. The rest of the process was a doddle. I left out the harissa and cayenne pepper as the kids are chilli wimps.

The Outcome

Liam: “This is really great Dad”

Chris: “Yum, this a good one! Very similar to the Moroccan beef”

Jacq: “Still hate pumpkin but I like the rest of it”

Me: This was a big favourite for me. I think the butternut pumpkin is an excellent ingredient but the cinnamon-paprika-cumin combination is excellent. + 1


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