Spicy Harissa Couscous With Chickpeas Recipe

This recipe for harissa couscous with chickpeas uses fluffy couscous and loads it with nutritious ingredients such as vegetable protein and fiber. It also uses the popular Moroccan ingredient harissa. This recipe makes a great main course for a filling lunch or salad. 

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Cooking Moroccan Couscous With Chickpeas 

I visited Morocco a couple of years ago and learned a lot about their cuisine, cooking methods, and popular ingredients. We stayed in the beautiful town of Moulay Idriss, a Muslim village with brightly colored walls down every alley and historical architecture everywhere you look. 

During our stay, we enjoyed many Moroccan dishes cooked by the locals and our hosts, and one of them was a Moroccan couscous with chickpeas.

Our hosts taught us how to cook couscous to perfection, which seemed to involve a lot of steps, and was quite a lengthy process. Although I found her lesson fascinating, I thought I would try to make my own version of her authentic couscous at home in a bit simpler manner. 

Spicy Harissa Couscous With Chickpeas Recipe

Moroccan Recipe With Couscous and Chickpeas

Aside from tagine, couscous with chickpeas was one of the most popular dishes we came across during our visit. In fact, chickpeas were used in a multitude of meals and often even used as a garnish, just placed on top of the dishes. 

chickpeas and couscous

Many people are often put off by couscous because they think it can be bland and dull. However, there is a lot that you can do with it, and it’s terrific at taking on other flavors, with harissa being one of them. 

That’s why I came up with this couscous with harissa recipe; it gives the couscous vibrancy and zest.

What Is Harissa?

cooking with harissa

Harissa is a chili paste that is commonly used in North Africa. Most of the time, it is made using dried chilis, cumin, and coriander. It’s one of my favorite Moroccan ingredients. Although it isn’t particularly spicy, it brings a lovely warming heat to a dish, which is different from any flavor you would ever get from just dried or fresh peppers.

Harissa has become increasingly popular across other nations over the past ten years, to the point where it is now easy to get your hands on in most grocery stores, especially in the US and UK. It can be bought in a tube or a jar and looks similar to red pesto. I like the pesto by Mina, which can be picked up on Amazon. 

Check out some of our other harissa recipes, including Moroccan Harissa Stew With Pumpkin And Chickpeas and Spicy Moroccan Harissa Hummus Recipe.

Ingredients For Harissa Couscous And Chickpeas

cooking Moroccan couscous with cumin and harissa

As you can tell from the title, the main ingredients that you’ll need for this recipe are couscous, harissa, and chickpeas, but for the base of flavor in the dish, you will also need garlic, shallots, and cilantro stalks. Don’t add the leaves to the dish, as they darken and wilt, and don’t add much to the dish; however, keep them to one side as they make the perfect garnish for this dish. 

The flavor of your couscous will come from the harissa and cumin so that it will be earthy, rounded, and nutty. The heat will come from the harissa, so you can alter this amount depending on how much spice you like. 

The ingredients will all be mixed with a vegetable broth and some lemon juice for acidity. 

Also, be sure to drain and rinse your chickpeas before adding them to the dish.

Couscous With Chickpeas – Preparation 

Moroccan chickpeas

Couscous is pretty straightforward to make and involves soaking in water, seasonings, or broth. It cooks quickly and absorbs the flavor as it cooks. 

Check your packet before cooking for the exact instructions, some can be simply left in boiling water to sit for 5 minutes with occasional fluffing, and others can be cooked in the pan but still only take 5 minutes. I like to add a small knob of butter or oil to mine and some vegetable or chicken stock powder, but you can just use salt. 

You can leave the couscous to cook while you prepare your harissa chickpeas. This doesn’t take long, and your couscous will reheat when it’s mixed into the final dish. 

Once you’ve prepared your couscous, warm olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, and add garlic, shallots, and cilantro stalks. Cook everything until it’s coated with the oil and beginning to soften, but be careful not to get any color on it. 

Add in the harissa and cumin, and mix well. Then, add in the chickpeas and broth. Cook for about 10 minutes until the chickpeas have reached temperature, and stir occasionally. 

Fluff the couscous with a fork, and put the chickpeas in a bowl with the couscous. Stir everything together and add a squeeze of lemon juice. Stir in the fresh cilantro and serve with a little extra harissa on the side if you like a bit of heat. 

Moroccan cous cous recipe

Harissa Couscous With Chickpeas

Yield: 4 Servings

Spicy Harissa Couscous With Chickpeas Recipe

Harissa Couscous With Chickpeas 8

This harissa couscous uses basic couscous to create a filling and nutritious vegan dish, which can be served as a main meal, side dish, or substantial salad. It's packed full of Moroccan flavors and easy to make. 

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1 cup of cooked couscous
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 diced shallot
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cilantro stalks, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp harissa
  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Cilantro leaves, torn for garnish


  1. Warm the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and add garlic, shallots, and cilantro stalks; cook until soft but not browned. 
  2. Add in the harissa and cumin and coat in the oil. 
  3. Add the chickpeas and broth, and cook for 10 minutes until the chickpeas have reached temperature. 
  4. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and add the chickpea mixture to the couscous. 
  5. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, and mix in the fresh coriander. 
  6. Serve with some extra harissa if desired. 

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 349Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 603mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 11gSugar: 7gProtein: 15g

This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.

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