Recipe Title: Al-aïch (Couscous with Chicken)
Submitted by: Maimouna Dieye
PTPI Affiliation: Nouakchott, Mauritania Community Chapter
Recipe Description: Al – aïch is the traditional Mauritanian recipe for a classic dish of a chicken and bean stew flavored with dried fish that’s served with aïch couscous cooked in the chicken. This form of couscous is typically made from either maize or millet flour moistened with water and rolled between the fingers to form balls about 2 mm in diameter (as a result, it’s much larger than other types of couscous). It’s typically served with a meat-based sauce (either chicken, lamb or goat). For proper aïch, the couscous is cooked in the broth from the stew until you have a porridge. However, you can also simply add millet, barley or wheat flour to the broth to make the porridge.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Note: Remember to pay attention to the unit of measurement used. Check conversions online or click here for a quick guide to U.S. and metric conversions.
1 whole, oven-ready chicken.
1 dried fish (khleii), flaked and with bones removed (optional)
2 onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
500 grams dried beans (chickpeas or black-eyed peas typically)
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
Oil for frying
Paprika and ground coriander seeds (kosbor), to taste
500 grams aïch (couscous)
1. The night before, soak the beans in plenty of water. (Most West and North African dried chickpeas are quite fresh and do not need pre-soaking.)
2. The following day, drain the beans, put in a large pot, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until just tender. (The exact time will depend on the type and age of the beans used.)
3. Joint the chicken into serving-sized pieces.
4. Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the chicken pieces and fry until browned all over. Remove with tongs and set aside.
5. Add the onions to the pan and fry until starting to color then add the tomatoes, beans, ground coriander seeds, salt and black pepper. Put in plenty of paprika (at least 2 tablespoons) to color the dish then add the chicken pieces back to the pot.
6. Pour in enough water to cover all the ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is tender.
7. In the meantime, steam the aïch until tender (about 20 minutes).
8. When the aïch is cooked add to a bowl (gassôa) with a knob of butter. Stir to detach the grains and coat them in the butter.
9. When the chicken has cooked, remove from the stock then stir the cooked aïch into the broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to heat through.
10. Turn into serving dish and arrange the chicken pieces on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.
If you would like to contribute to our series, Cultural Cooking, please complete the recipe submission form and email photographs to email@example.com.