Tuniso-Andalusian Beef and Walnut Couscous

A rather unusual couscous, made with beef and walnuts, as a result of which it was known as al-jawziyya, ‘the walnutty one’ (from jawz, ‘walnuts’). The recipe appears in a 13th-century recipe collection by an Andalusian emigre residing in Tunis. The author recommends taking fatty beef, which enhances the flavour of the dish, though it can also be made with mutton or chicken. The only vegetable that is added is aubergine, which is first boiled in water and salt. After making the couscous, it should be rubbed with (boiled) walnut kernels, and mixed with aromatics like cinnamon, spikenard, and mastic. It is served according to established practice, with the broth being poured over the couscous, and the meat and vegetables layered on top. Add a sprinkling of cinnamon and spikenard, and it’s good to eat. It’s unlikely you’ll have tasted a couscous like this one!

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