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N. Tel Aviv seacoast goers at the Tel Aviv Port

local ingredients for couscous recipe

We lived in fashionable North Tel Aviv when I was pregnant with my son. Not that I felt very fashionable when I was a “Tsafoni” (slang for those who live there).  One day, returning in the late afternoon from work I pregnantly waddled up the aisle of the bus to disembark at the stop for my street, Kosovski. A lovely young sephardic (Jews of Oriental and N. African origin) girl got to the front of the bus before me and the bus driver flirting with her said “What’s a nice Sephardic girl like you getting off on an Ashkenazi (referring to the E. European origin name) street like this?”

I ask myself the reverse of that question when I tackle traditionally sephardic dishes. There is  a definite melting pot of cuisines here, but certain dishes seem doomed to the reputation of their countries of origin and that only those with that genetic link can really make it right; like Kube, malawah, and couscous, kishke to mention a few. But after all, doesn’t Rick Bayless create and write about the most awesome and authentic Mexican cuisine?

I know there must be multitudes of recipes out there for this basic North African staple, but I had a Moroccan and two Tunisian origin friends state mine was as good as their mothers and I make it more simply, a version for chef’s without much time.  In fact a Moroccan friend of mine marvelled that I used the instant couscous product when she went through the hours long process of the traditionally made semolina pasta.  When she tried it she declared she was never going back again! (btw no comparison to instant rice which we all know is barely a food).


1 whole chicken cut in parts or 6 boned chicken pieces

1 yellow onion

1 lb. raw pumpkin (delaat) cut up in cubes

1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

100 gram tomato paste

1 cup of soup stock (no MSG!!! use a natural powder from a health food store or packaged)

2 cloves garlic minced

1 tbsp. shwarma spice (see recipes, Ingredients)

1 tbsp. cumin

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. turmeric

olive oil

Fry onion in Olive oil in large dutch oven. As onion becomes clear add garlic and dry spices. Fry quickly not allowing spices to burn and become bitter.  Mix soup stock and tomato paste with a whisk and pour over onion-spice mixture. Add raw pumpkin, chicken pieces and whole can of garbanzo beans including liquid (will aid as sauce thickener).

Prepare Couscous: 1 cup of quick couscous mix prepared according to packaged directions.

Serve over couscous when meat is falling off bones.  Pumpkin should be soft.