While we were at Ait Benhaddou our host gave us a lesson in cooking couscous.
This Kasbah had very good internet and we all took advantage of it.
The owner acted as an extra in some films so he calls himself 'Action'. He layed out the ingredients of a proper couscous.
The couscous before it is cooked.
The traditional vegetables that are part of the meal. The Moroccans consider couscous to be the entire dish, not just the grain. They include pumpkin, tomato, onion, eggplant, carrot and turnip. No garlic or potato.
There are six spices: salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, paprika and saffron. If you don't have saffron you can substitute tumeric.
They only do meat, chicken and vegetable versions. Fish is not allowed.
Action in action. Note the double steamer in the foreground. The top container does not have a lid and the bottom has holes that allows the steam from the bottom pot to reach the semolina in the top pot. The meat is added to the bottom pot as well as olive oil and water. It is cooked for an hour and then all the vegies are added except for the tomato and pumpkin.
The semolina is wet with a small amount of water and olive oil.
He used his hands to form the semolina into clumps so that they would not fall through the holes into the bottom pot.
He formed a mini volcano with the semolina and then dumped it into the top pot. After thirty minutes the semolina is taken out, fluffed, more water and oil is added and then back into the top pot. This is repeated a few times.
Right before the end, the tomato and pumpkin (with skin still on) are added to the bottom pot and cooked briefly.
The result is the best couscous I have ever eaten with the meat falling off the bone. The grains are ultra soft and fluffy. It takes at least two hours to prepare and our guide had to call ahead to let them know when we would be having dinner. Sorry about the blurry photo.
Mind you, it is a whole lot easier to prepare the packet stuff, but it is not as good as the real thing.