Monday, 21 November 2011

Libyan Couscous bil Busla (couscous with onion topping)

Libyan Couscous bil Busla (couscous with onions)


2 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/2 cups stock

Meat (lamb, beef or chicken)
1 onion chopped
2 1/2 large spoons tomato paste
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt 
oil for frying the onion
approximately one litre of hot water

Approximately 7 medium onions, halved and sliced
1/2 cup chickpeas


In a large  bowl measure 2 1/2 cups couscous, in a measuring cup make 1 1/2 cups of stock.

Pour the hot stock over the couscous and mix thoroughly.

Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Uncover and fluff up the cousous

Break up any lumps 

 Peel and slice about seven medium onions

Break apart the slices

Heat some oil in a pot, add the chopped onion

Cook until golden

Add 2 1/2 spoons of tomato paste

Cook & stir until the oil turns a reddish colour, you may want to turn down the heat so the tomato paste doesn't burn 

Add the chucks of meat and cook and stir

Add approx 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or to taste)

Add approx 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

Add approx 1 teaspoon of salt (more or less according to taste) 

Add approx 1 litre of boiling water, bring to a boil, cover and cook on medium high

Put sliced onions and the steamer

Place steamer on top of pot, cover

After about 20 minutes, check the onions they should be getting soft, add a dash of salt

Add about 1/2 cup of canned or cooked chickpeas, let cook till onions are tender but not mushy

In a small saucepan, melt a spoon of ghee

Add the steamed onions to the melted ghee

Add a few ladles (about 3 or 4) of the sauce to the onions

Sprinkle in some cinnamon

Add the couscous to the steamer

Place the steamer on top of the sauce pot. Make sure you have enough liquid, if not add a cup or so of boiling water

You can put some pieces of plastic wrap around the pot where the pot and the steamer meet so that the steam is sealed in. Let it cook for about 20 minutes.

Check to see if it's fluffy, then it's done

The onions should resemble this when they are done

Put the cooked couscous in a large bowl

Break up any lumps

Sprinkle some allspice over the couscous


  1. looks delicious, tastes perfect!
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe..! It brings back my childhood memories in Libya.. Do you use hararat spice powder for these recipes?

  3. Thanks for the recipe, I thought they used a different spice for couscous?