Recipe courtesy of Rafih Benjelloun

Couscous Tfaya with Chicken and Majhoul Dates

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  • Total: 1 hr 50 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 15 min
  • Cook: 1 hr 10 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 1/2 pounds coucous (durum wheat recommended)

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 cup lukewarm water

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons

Olive oil

2 small Cornish hens or 4 medium quails, cut into small pieces

1 large red onion, julienned, plus 1 large red onion, finely chopped

4 stems parsley, finely chopped

2 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 generous pinch saffron

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon Ras el Hanout (a mixture of 37 aromatic spices) or, a pinch clove and a pinch nutmeg

2 cups water

4 tablespoons honey

1 cup garbanzo beans, pre-cooked or soaked overnight

1 cup seedless raisins

20 majhoul dates or 1 pound biskra or deglat-nour dates

1/2 cup roasted, skinless almonds


  1. Pour the couscous in a large bowl, add salt, to taste, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 cup lukewarm water, 4 tablespoons of the melted butter. Mix and let rest for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed.
  2. Preheat a thick pot. Add olive oil and heat. Add Cornish hen or quail and brown for a few minutes. Add the chopped and julienned onion, parsley, remaining butter, spices, salt, and 2 cups water. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Add honey, garbanzo beans, raisins, and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add water as needed. Add the dates. Simmer for 5 minutes, or until the dates are hot.
  4. Separate the couscous grains by rubbing both hands together. Make sure there are no lumps. Fill the bottom of the couscoussiere (or pot) with 1 1/2 gallons water. Bring to a boil. Put the couscoussiere (or fine-meshed sieve) on top. When the vapor comes up, pour the couscous in the top (sieve), and let it steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender and spongy.
  5. On a large platter, spread a 1-inch thick layer of couscous. Add some pieces of Cornish hen or quail around the middle. Then pour over the surface onions, raisins, and garbanzo beans.
  6. Garnish with dates, the roasted almonds, and the rest of the sauce. Serve hot.

Cook’s Note

A couscoussier or a pot and fine-meshed strainer and a thick heavy pot are recommended for cooking Moroccan food