Rosh Hashanah Couscous with Chicken and Vegetables

By Margi Lenga Kahn

This is a traditional Moroccan holiday dish. The couscous alludes to abundance and the vegetables are all mentioned by name in the Talmud. You can substitute brown or white rice for the couscous.  Preceded by a fish appetizer and a light salad, this would make a lovely Rosh Hashanah meal.


1/4 cup olive oil

1 chicken, about 3 pounds, cut into 8 serving pieces

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 – inch pieces (3 cups)

1 pound carrots, cut into 1-inch slices

1 large leek, split, cleaned, and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 tbsp. ground turmeric

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Pinch of saffron

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed well and drained

8 cups homemade or canned chicken broth, plus more if needed

4 cups instant couscous (about 1 1/2 pounds)

1/2 cup golden raisins

4 tbsp. warmed orange juice

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sauté until lightly browned, 6-7 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and continue in the same manner with remaining chicken (do not crowd chicken in the pot),

Add onions, squash, carrots, and leeks to pot and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Return chicken to the pot and add turmeric, cumin, saffron, cinnamon, and garbanzo beans. Cook for an additional 2 minutes while stirring.

Add chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until chicken and squash are tender. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. (Recipe can be completed up to this point 1 day in advance. Let stew cool, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Before continuing with recipe, add 2 tbsp. additional broth and bring mixture back to the simmer over medium heat. )

Line a steamer basket with cheesecloth and set basket over the simmering stew. Add couscous. Cover pot and cook for about 16 minutes, or until couscous is tender.

While couscous steams, combine raisins and orange juice in a cup. Let raisins plump until couscous is done.

To serve, spoon couscous onto a lipped serving platter, mounding it slightly in the center. Drizzle about 1/2 cup stew liquid and remaining olive oil over couscous. Season it lightly with additional salt and pepper.

Stir parsley into stew. Arrange chicken pieces and vegetables on top and around couscous. Spoon some of the remaining liquid over chicken and vegetables.

Drain raisins and sprinkle over couscous to garnish.

Makes 4 generous servings.