Moroccan Pebbles: A Fried Couscous

Music Pairing: Simon Shaheen, Dance Mediterranea


Light, grainy and spicy, this one came to us as a variation on a classical, a beloved fried rice.  Sometimes by the virtue of speed (since couscous cooks so much faster than rice), others, because it feels lighter and more interesting, we began to experiment in our kitchen with various saucy recipes served with variations on couscous.  We make it on a vegetable broth, tomato-based, herb and garlic couscous, every-leftover-vegetable-in-our-fridge couscous, you get the idea.  Then rather than adding a garnish or a dish of curry to it, one day, we made a fried couscous, with eggs, cashews, basil, spices and harissa.  Couscous is a staple food throughout the North African region of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Libya and, of course, Israel. I (Afa) brought the dish to share with Aaron at our local chapter of the American Legion, a place where we spend Sunday evenings visiting with the community, doing a little work and enjoying charity poker (the latter only in Aaron’s case).  It was a hit, and similarly to our normal processes, we varied certain aspects until we liked a version well enough to share.  We love to pair this with a wonderful selection by an artist we enjoy very much, Simon Shaheen (while not of Moroccan origins, the culture of sound and tonality merged in our imagination as a lovely companion to the cooking process and reminded us of early kitchen experiments in our first home together, Ypsilanti, MI).



  • 2 cups bulk whole grain couscous
  • 1 chopped red onion (medium)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 T salt
  • 3T smoked Spanish paprika
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 3 oz fresh basil (opal, if possible)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 T spicy harissa
  • 1 t cayenne or Aleppo pepper, ground
  • 4 medium tomatoes
  • 1 C cashews
  • ½ C olive oil
  • Olive oil spray


  1. Gently caramelize the onions and garlic in a deeper pan, until golden and beyond translucent, using about 50% of the allotted olive oil
  2. In a separate pan, cook the tomatoes with the harissa and all of the spices, using the remaining olive oil. Set both aside.
  3. Make the couscous, using the 1×2 ratio with cold water (only boiling it for about 5 minutes, then set aside).  Most of the water should be gone and the couscous should be al dente.
  4. Scramble the 2 eggs, adding the cashews, using the olive oil spray.
  5. Heat the first mixture and add the tomato/harissa mix, the eggs, the couscous in one, giving everything generous turns and “frying” the mixture and making sure the flavors and ingredients are well mixed
  6. Garnish with the basil and serve hot

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