Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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I have witnessed the atoms of all creation,
each one with its mouth open.
If I were to speak of their food,
the story would have no end.
All provisions are provided
from God's bounty.
God's all-encompassing grace
nourishes all that nourish
and bestows the gift of sustenance
on all that sustains life.
For how should wheat spring forth
without nourishment?
Lamb Couscous
With Seven Vegetables
Total time: 2 hours
½ cup unsalted butter
3 lbs. boneless lamb, cut into 1" cubes
1 tbsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. saffron, dissolved in 1 tbsp. water
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups onion, halved and sliced
4 cups sliced tomatoes
8 cups water
3 cups carrots, cut into 1" chunks
3 cups turnips, peeled and quartered
2 cups cabbage, cut into chunks
2 cups summer squash, cut into chunks
2 cups winter squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
½ cup coarsely chopped coriander
1 small green chili, halved and seeded
1 cup raisins
3 lbs. couscous
½ cup melted unsalted butter
½ cup water
2 tsp. salt

In a couscousiere or large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the lamb, salt, pepper and turmeric, and fry until the meat is brown, 5-10 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the top. Add the saffron, cinnamon sticks, onions and tomatoes, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

While the lamb cooks, prepare the couscous. Pour it into a large roasting pan, cover it with 10 cups of cold water, and stir well. Drain, return to the pan and let it rest for 15 minutes. Gently rub the grains between your fingers to break up any lumps; then turn the couscous into the top of the couscousiere or muslin-lined colander. Place the couscousiere top in its place, or nestle the colander in the upper part of the pot, wrapping a wet towel around the edge to prevent steam from escaping. Steam the couscous, uncovered, for a half-hour; then, remove the couscous and pour it back into the roasting pan.

Add the carrots, turnips and cabbage to the lamb stew, return to a simmer, and continue to work with the couscous. Sprinkle the couscous with a half cup of melted butter, a half cup of cold water, and 2 teaspoons of salt, then rake it gently with your fingers, separating and fluffing up the grains. Let it rest for 10 minutes, then return it to the steamer or colander.

Before you continue steaming the couscous, stir the summer squash, winter squash or pumpkin, parsley, coriander and green chili and raisins into the stew. Return to a simmer. Then, put the couscousiere top or colander on top of the pot, wrap the edge of the pot with a wet towel, and steam the couscous, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. Taste to check the tenderness of the grains.

When the couscous is ready, turn it out into a large serving bowl and make a well in the center. Turn the stew into a colander set over a bowl, and reserve the juice. Transfer the stew into the center of the couscous. Drizzle a little broth over everything, and serve the rest separately, along with other seasoning sauces such as Red Pepper Sauce or Onion Raisin Sauce.