This spiced vegan cous cous recipe is wholesome, packed full of flavors, and so versatile that it can be your breakfast, lunch, or dinner! It tastes good warm or cold and therefore is a good option for a make-ahead meal. The best part? It comes together in 20 minutes!
This Moroccan vegetable couscous recipe works well for me on days when I do not have time for elaborate cooking.
What makes me happier is that my girls love it too! My older teen said to me the other day "I can see myself making this when I am off to university" As a parent, this was music to my ears 😊.
Is couscous new to you or are you wondering if it is gluten-free? You will find the answers here: is couscous gluten-free?
Ingredients for vegan cous cous recipe
The spices that I have used in this recipe might make this dish seem like a curry couscous salad to you!
These spices are commonly used in Moroccan cous cous and they come together so beautifully!
See the recipe card for quantities.
- Couscous - Use the pre-cooked, instant variety that you get in supermarkets.
- Hot stock - I dissolve a stock cube in hot water. Use fresh stock if you have it.
- Kidney beans - I use the canned variety. If you do not have kidney beans, go ahead and use whatever canned beans you have - chickpeas, rosecoco, black-eyed, or lima - the choice is yours. The idea is to have a good ratio of protein in this dish.
- Pantry staple vegetables - onion, carrot, and bell pepper (capsicum). Use any colored peppers - I like to use contrasting colors!
- Oil - I strongly recommend using extra virgin olive oil. If not available, use any other good quality oil that has good fats.
- Spices - Turmeric, ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, ground cinnamon, and salt. Simple spices that bring great taste and health benefits!
- Ginger-Garlic Paste - You could grate or mince ginger and garlic, but the paste of ginger and garlic makes it a lot easier and saves time!
- Fresh cilantro - I use the leaves and stems.
I just love the smell of anything with cinnamon in it and use it generously in my cooking - both whole and as a ground spice.
Although the sweet, woody flavor of cinnamon is generally associated with baking, sweets, and pancakes (these eggless pancakes), this spice works equally well in savory dishes. In this aromatic and mild pulav rice, I have used whole cinnamon sticks and in this zucchini Indian recipe, it is there in the garam masala.
💡 Did you know that couscous is a staple in regions like Morocco and North Africa?
How do you cook couscous?
The pre-cooked, instant variety that we find in supermarkets does not require cooking.
Follow these tips to get the perfect texture:
- Soak the couscous in hot stock (or water) in a ratio of 1:1. That is, if you take 1 cup of couscous, you will need to soak it in 1 cup of hot stock/ water. It is important to bear in mind that the water (or stock) must be hot.
- Cover the bowl with a lid and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the couscous up with a fork.
The couscous is now ready to be added to the dish.
Couscous, by itself, is bland and therefore can soak up any flavor.
Let us make this easy, healthy couscous recipe, shall we?
See the recipe card for detailed instructions, notes, and a video.
- Make the stock: Dissolve the stock cube in hot water.
- Soak the couscous: Pour this hot stock over the couscous in a bowl. Cover and keep aside for 10 minutes.
3. Dice the vegetables and chop the herbs.
4. Measure and keep ready the rest of the ingredients.
4. Add oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and bell pepper. Stir. Fry for a minute. Add the salt, ginger-garlic paste, and cilantro. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
5. Turn the heat down and add the salt and other spices. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if the pan seems too dry and the spices look like they are going to burn.
6. Check the couscous: By this time, the couscous would have soaked up all the hot stock. Fluff it up with a fork. Keep aside.
7. Finish the dish: Now coming back to the dish, the vegetables should have cooked with still some crunch left in them. If you like your vegetables soft, then let them cook for another 2-3 minutes.
8. Now add the beans and the couscous. Mix well. Turn off the heat. Cover and rest for 2 minutes.
Serve warm or cold with a side of your choice.
Tips and notes
For best results and texture, do not cook the couscous for too long after you add it to the pan - 2 or 3 minutes will do.
You can add other spices and herbs to this dish as per your choice. For example, you can replace cilantro with fresh mint or parsley. Add chopped green chilies if you like spice.
Couscous: Instead of the small grain, instant variety, you can use pearl couscous. Cook it as per pack instructions and add it to the recipe.
Sour: I have not added any sour ingredient to this as this is. You can, if you wish add 1 to 2 teaspoons of vinegar or chopped-up sun-dried tomatoes to add some tanginess. I would, however, not add balsamic vinegar to this recipe just because it will overpower the taste.
Stock: You fresh stock if you have or for those of you who are ok with it, use any other stock such as fish or chicken stock.
Yes, couscous, a grain, is suitable for vegans. However, not all recipes made with couscous are vegan-friendly. Do ask/ check the ingredients list to make sure it is.
Making couscous is so quick and easy. Just add hot water (or stock) in the ration 1:1 to the couscous. Cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, uncover and fluff it up with a fork. The couscous is ready to serve!
Couscous by itself is bland and therefore can soak up any flavor. You can flavor it by adding simple spices such as ground cinnamon, coriander, and cumin. Add a dash of fresh juice of a lime, vinegar, or sun-dried tomatoes.
Yes, treat it like you would leftover rice. You can either bring it to room temperature by keeping it out on the counter, reheat it in the microwave or use it cold, straight from the refrigerator.
Couscous is a staple food in the region of Morocco. It is made with durum wheat. So one can say that couscous is the tiniest form of pasta!
I hope that you enjoy making this quick and easy vegan cous cous recipe as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. If you have made it, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! xx Padma
Spiced vegan cous cous salad
- 1 bowl (for soaking couscous)
- 1 wok / frying pan
- 1 spatula
- 1 jug (to make the stock)
For the cous cous
- ½ cup couscous (use the pre cooked, instant variety)
- ½ stock cube (5 grams, approximately)
- ½ cup hot water (just boiled)
Vegetables and beans
- 1 small onion (75-100 grams)
- 1 small carrot (75-100 grams)
- 1 small bell pepper (capsicum) (75-100 grams)
- 1 large stalk fresh cilantro (leaves + stem)
- ¼ can kidney beans (or any other beans) (100 grams, approximately)
Spices and flavorings
- ½ teaspoon salt (adjust as per taste)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground red chili or paprika
- 2 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Make the stock
- Pour the hot water in a jug and add the stock cube (crumble with your fingers). Mix well till it dissolves. The stock is ready. Keep aside.
Prep the couscous
- Place the couscous in a bowl. Add the hot stock, Cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Prep the vegetables
- While the couscous is soaking, cut the onion, carrot and capsicum into small cubes. Chop the fresh coriander – leaves and stem.Chopping vegetables into small pieces will cook them fast.
Make the salad
- Add olive oil to a frying pan/ wok on medium high heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot and bell pepper. Stir. Fry for 2 minutes. Add the salt, ginger garlic paste and cilantro. Stir and fry for a minute.
- Turn the heat down. Add the spices and flavourings and stir well. Add a splash (1 - 2 tablespoons) of water if required. Fry the spices for 2 minutes.
Check the couscous
- By this time the couscous would have soaked up all the hot stock. Fluff it up with a fork. Keep aside.
Finish the dish
- The vegetables should have cooked with still some crunch left in them. If you like the vegetables softer, let them cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the beans and the couscous. Mix well. Turn off the heat. Cover and rest for 2 minutes.
- Serve warm with plain yogurt or any other side of your choice. I like serving it with this simple cucumber raita
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.