Couscous is best steamed and steamed more than once, being rubbed between each steaming. It is more of an effort but I think that it is really worth the time and trouble.
The traditional couscousiere is used to prepare a vegetable or meat stew in a sauce below while the couscous steams above and absorbs some of the wondeful flavours.
The Varoma, which sits above the Thermomix bowl is perfect for this function.
The recipe below is based very heavily on a dish that Greg Malouf has prepared at cooking classes and was on the menu at O'Connells' and probably also at MoMo. It is more involved than what you can do to prepare a tasty couscous with vegetables, but hopefully you will see the logic in the method used - first steaming the vegetables, preparing the couscous and spicy stock and then finishing the vegies in the spicy stock while steaming the couscous - three times.
The Food Safari program gave a hint that I had not seen before, where a light blue vein cheese is rubbed through the couscous, to imitate the traditional addition of smem, a rancid butter.
If you can't be bothered going through the whole process, at least think about steaming couscous over a flavoursome stock and rubbing to increase the fluffiness.
Fez Style Couscous with Seven Vegetables with Seven Spices
100 g Chickpeas
6 potatoes, waxy (eg kipfler) cut in half
2 carrots, cut into large batons
1/2 pumpkin butternut, leave skin on, cut into large batons
2 parsnips, cut into batons
1 turnip, cut into wedges (5 cm)
1 eggplant, cut into large batons
2 zucchini, cut into large batons
500 g Couscous
1 clove garlic
I MC (100 ml) olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp crushed dried chilli
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
Juice of 1 lemon
800g vegetable stock or water
Extra oil to break up couscous
10 ml Rose water
Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain and place chickpeas in the TM basket. Add 1200g water to the TM bowl. Place pieces of potato, carrot, pumpkin, parsnip and turnip in Varoma. Place Varoma in position and cook for 30 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 1. Check to see how tender the pieces of vegetable are at that point, they should be slightly undercooked before the next step. If needed, they should be cooked for a little longer. Add eggplant and zucchini and cook these and the chickpeas for another 20 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 1. Check to see how well the vegetables and the chickpeas are at this point. Drain and set chickpeas and vegetables aside in Thermoserver or similar container to keep warm.
Soak couscous in half a cup of cold water for 10 minutes in a baking tray lined with a cloth (tea towel or muslin). While soaking, place garlic in TM bowl and chop for 5 seconds at speed 7. Add oil and sauté for 5 minutes at 100°C on speed 1. Add lemon juice and stock. Drain couscous and place the cloth with couscous inside the Varoma. Place Varoma in position and cook for 15 minutes at Varoma temperature on speed 1. Carefully remove towel with couscous and empty onto baking tray, let cool a bit before adding some oil and breaking up the grains with your fingers. Remove half of the stock mixture to a container and set aside. Place the butterfly over the blades and add about half of the vegetables to the stock. Place cloth back in Varoma, place couscous on cloth and steam again for another 10 minutes at 100°C on reverse speed 1. Once again, carefully remove towel with couscous and empty onto baking tray, let cool a bit before adding some more oil and breaking up the grains with your fingers. While waiting for the couscous to cool, remove the vegetables and stock and set aside to keep warm. Place the remaining stock mixture and vegetables in the TM bowl. You may like to add some light, creamy, blue cheese to the couscous grains as per the Food Safari program and rub through before placing back on the cloth in Varoma. Steam again for another 10 minutes at 100°C on reverse speed 1.
Pile the couscous high in the centre of a warm serving plate and stack the vegetables around the couscous. Pour the chickpeas and stock over the top. Sprinkle with rosewater and salt.
Serve with green harissa and tzatziki.