Couscous, Timbuktu-style

Couscous de Timbuktu

Savory yet sweet; spicy, but at the same time delicate – this dish is a bit of a wonder. Easy to prepare, it would be great for a family supper, or a dinner party with friends. The flavors are all there to make everyone happy, just use your creativity with the presentation…

Note: the original recipe calls for 1 to 2 TABLESPOONS of cayenne. I just could not go there…I like spicy food, but that level of heat doesn’t speak to me. If you ever roll out with that, please let me know how it tastes!

Timbuktu Couscous(image by The Global Reader)
Timbuktu Couscous
(image by The Global Reader)

Adapted from a recipe at Celtnet


  • 2-3 lbs. chicken, beef or lamb, cut into bite sized pieces (I used beef)
  • Oil  for frying ( I used unrefined coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 2 14 oz. cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 Tbsp. ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 Cups water
  • 1/4-1/2 cup dates, pitted and pureed in a food processor
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 2-3 medium onions, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parley


  1. Season the meat with salt and pepper
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. Add the onions and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the meat and garlic and cook until the meat is well browned.
  5. Add the spices and stir-fry for a few minutes.
  6. Add the tomatoes and enough water to just cover the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil.
  7. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the meat is tender.
  8. Add date puree and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce has reduced by half its volume.
  9. Adjust the seasonings, transfer to a serving bowl, and sprinkle with chopped parsley
  10. Serve with couscous.

To drink, I made up a batch of West African Ginger Juice. Oh. So. Good

A Mali Dinner(image by The Global Reader)
A Mali Dinner
(image by The Global Reader)

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