North African food occupies much the same beloved place in the French diet as Indian cooking does in ours: indeed, couscous was actually voted the nation’s favourite food in one poll. Most French towns will have at least one restaurant serving it but it’s also very easy to make at home.


  • ⅛ tsp saffron
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken legs
  • 1 large red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ground to make ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • a small bunch coriander, stalks and leaves reserved
  • 350g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
  • 2 courgettes, cut into chunky slices
  • 400g tin chickpeas
  • 150g couscous
  • 2 tbsp butter or extra-virgin olive oil
  • a handful flaked almonds


  • STEP 1

    Soak the saffron in 50ml boiling water. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large lidded casserole over a medium-high heat. Brown the chicken legs on all sides until deep golden, then take out.

  • STEP 2

    Turn the heat down, add the rest of the oil, and fry the onion until soft and starting to brown. Stir in the dried spices and 1 tsp salt, cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken back in, along with 700ml of cold water and the saffron and its soaking water. Cut the stalks from the coriander, tie loosely with string and add to the dish, saving the leaves as a garnish.

  • STEP 3

    Bring to a simmer, cover, turn down the heat and cook for 40 minutes. Add the squash and courgettes to the pan, cover again and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Remove the coriander stalks, tip in the chickpeas and season the broth if it needs it.

  • STEP 4

    Cook the couscous following pack instructions and toss with 1 tbsp of butter and some salt. Fry the almonds in the remaining butter until just golden and then scatter on top of the chicken with the coriander leaves before serving with the couscous on the side.


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