I’m always going to suggest that you use dried beans when cooking. There are times when a can of beans will do just fine, but now is not that time. Part of what makes this dish delicious is that you moisten the couscous with the liquid you’ve cooked your lamb and/or chickpeas with, and if you use canned chickpeas this broth will be bland.
Like all stews this one is even better the next day.
1/2 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1 pound lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 11/2 inch pieces
1 large onion
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace, optional
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 butternut squash
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup couscous
2 Tablespoons yellow raisins, optional but highly recommended
2 Tablespoons pistachios, chopped, optional
Chop the onion to a medium dice. In a dutch oven melt the butter over medium heat and add the onion, spices, and salt. Stir and cover. Cook the onions for ten minutes. Uncover and keep cooking the onions until they begin to take on a little color.
If you are making the lamb brown the pieces on all sides in the dutch oven then add 8 cups of water.
Bring this to boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook for two hours then add the chickpeas.
If you are making just the chickpeas add them to the onions and cover with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the chickpeas until tender; about 1 hour.
Preheat your oven to 400º
Using a Y peeler, peel the butternut squash. Slice it in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Slice each half into 1/2 " half moons. Put the half moon slices in a medium bowl and toss with 1 Tablespoon of oil. You may need a little more or a little less deppending on the size of your squash. Lay your slices evenly on two parchment covered sheet trays. Sprinkle the slices with salt. You want to sprinkle with your hand high and away from the squash, about chest high, this way all the slices get a light and even sprinkling of salt.
Roast the slices for 20 minutes, flip them, then roast them for another 20. You want to roast them until they are golden and tender. (It took the electric oven I’m working with at the moment a total of 60 minutes but it might take yours less.)
For the couscous follow the instruction from the brand you purchase as they vary greatly. (With the brand I’ve been using, M’hamsa, 1 cup dry makes 2-3 servings but if you use a different brand you might need a little more.) Make the couscous about 10 minutes before you are ready to eat.
To serve make a bed of couscous on to each bowl or plate. Moisten the couscous with ladles of broth. About 1/4-1/2 cup per plate depending how brothy you want it. Layer some squash over the couscous then top the squash with the lamb and/or chickpea stew. Sprinkle each bowl with a some raisins and pistachios.
This recipe makes more squash than you will need. Use the slices to top of goat cheese crostini, or tuck them into a turkey sandwich or a salad.