Harissa Couscous

Couscous is a wonderfully convenient store cupboard ingredient. In a matter of minutes you can have a delicious accompaniment for a tasty tagine or other meat dish. It can be eaten either warm or cold in a salad. When couscous is bad, it is really bad. It can be bland and soggy. It is just wheat cooked in water after all. What you are looking for is couscous that is fluffy and moist without being soggy. To avoid it being bland it needs a lot of spicing and citrus, and the secret I think is to cook it in stock rather than just hot water.

I have harped on about my love of harissa many times before. I think it is the perfect way to add flavour to couscous. I like to make this to serve cold with other salads. I also use is as a side in a chicken dish which I will share later this week. You can really add anything you like to this. Add chunky roasted veg if you want to bulk it up. Some feta cheese crumbled in would be great. Go with whatever flavours you like yourself.

This recipe is using instant couscous which the most common type available here.

Serves 4 as a side, more if part of a salad selection


  • 1 cup or 200g of couscous
  • 350ml of boiling chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ a small red onion, finely chopped
  • The juice of one lemon
  • ½ a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tsp of harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tsp of smoked paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh coriander, mint or parsley leaves to garnish


  • Measure the couscous into a large bowl. Pour over the hot stock and cover the bowl tightly with cling film. You will see the grains swell up as they cook in the stock. It will take about 10 minutes, depending on the type of couscous you are using. It is cooked when all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • While the grains are cooking, cover the finely diced onions with the lemon juice. The lemon will slightly cure and remove the sharp raw taste from the onions.
  • When the couscous is cooked, use a fork to fluff it up and separate any lumps that might stick together. Add the onions and lemon juice, red pepper, harissa paste, pomegranate molasses and smoked paprika. Stir it well with the fork until everything is completely combined.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Make sure to taste it first as the stock may have been salty so it might only need a little seasoning. Feel free to add some chilli or more harissa if you want more of a kick but you don’t want it to overpower the other foods you are serving. If it is still too dry for your liking stir through a little olive oil.
  • Turn it out on to a serving plate and garnish with the fresh herbs.

Harissa Couscous - A Cookbook Collection

Check out Ciara’s Pomegranate Couscous for more inspiration


6 thoughts on “Harissa Couscous

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