Pumpkin Cous Cous (Guest Post)

Pumpkin Cous Cous by Denise

Today I have a friend and guest blogger, Denise from Quickies on the Dinner Table in the house. Although I met Denise on the World Wide Web, she has since become more than just a blogger friend. During my last visit to Singapore, I actually met up with Denise and we shared a fun afternoon together chatting, eating, and shopping. You can read about my visit and our meeting in the post Taste of Singapore. During my short stay there, I also met up with the lovely Ann of Anncoo Journal. It was a fun trip. :)

Denise needs no introduction as I know many of you enjoy her wonderful blog. She is also the author of Quickies, Morning, Noon and Night for which I have an autographed copy. Her recipes are quick and simple, yet delicious and full of flavor. So without much ado, please welcome Denise.

Hello everyone! My name is Denise and I blog at Quickies on the Dinner Table. I’d like to start by congratulating my lovely host and friend Biren, on her sparkling new and beautiful virtual kitchen. I’d like to continue by saying that this post is shamefully overdue and thank you Biren, for your patience with me, indulgence and very gracious invitation.

When Biren first invited me to do this post I was thrilled, but had no idea what to prepare. If you’re a regular reader of Roti n Rice, I won’t need to tell you how talented and versatile a blogger Biren is. I don’t think there is anything she cannot cook or bake. I know for a fact that her personal kitchen philosophy is “cook only what you will eat” and that she is an absolute perfectionist. I would very willingly wager that every single recipe here is truly delicious or she would not have posted it.

Pumpkin Cous Cous by Denise

So, it truly is an honour to be invited by a cook of her calibre and I hope that my offering today will not disappoint. It’s a very simple recipe, in keeping with my personal philosophy of quick and easy but delicious food that is good for you.

You’ve probably noticed that pumpkins are popping up everywhere as autumn closes in, so, why fight something that comes to you on a silver platter? Living in Southeast Asia, as I do, you can bet that I sometimes get very tired of eating rice. When that happens, I’ll often reach for my box of cous cous as it’s incredibly quick and easy to prepare but is such a fabulous vehicle for almost any kind of flavour profile you want to imprint on it.

the right dice – pumpkin cooks quickly, don’t end up with mush

In Asia, there is an abundance of both sweet and savoury dishes that showcase our much loved pumpkin. I’ve been told however, that in the West, pumpkin is destined to end up on the dessert trolley, with perhaps only vegetarians fully exploiting its potential as a truly versatile food.

I’ve been on a pumpkin bender of late, and why wouldn’t I be, when it’s such a flavourful, satisfying and nutritious vegetable, er, fruit, er vegetable. See what I mean? Pumpkin is loaded with fibre, beta carotene, potassium and magnesium (source: Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch & Balch) and really should be a part of most diets. With that in mind, I have for you today, a vegan dish that combines cous cous and pumpkin, with a nod to North Africa, or more specifically, the Maghreb.

Pumpkin Cous Cous by Denise

The countries of the Maghreb, in particular, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, have long fascinated me. It’s been noted by many lucky enough to have travelled there, that everything seems magnified; the colours, the scents, the sounds. The sky is bluer, sharper, the sun is brighter and fiercer, baking the earth to a parched and crackled sienna and fading the rampant, vibrantly painted walls to a soft and dusty patina of hastened age. Many a daydream has been spent deliberating over the almost impossible beauty of such a visually stunning palate.

Pumpkin Cous Cous by Denise

It’s nearly too much beauty to bear, and I long to see it all for myself one day. Until I make it there, I will have to be content with meals that echo the pulsing colours and bewitching aromas and flavours of that wondrously enigmatic land. Sad for me, but what a glorious excuse to stir up a tempest of taste in the kitchen. 😉

Pumpkin Cous Cous (Guest Post)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4 servings
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp light vegetable oil
  • 1 level tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, peel and slice thinly
  • 2 large cloves garlic, peel and chop
  • 1 ½ level tsp coriander powder
  • 1 level tsp dried ground ginger
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ of a cantaloupe-sized pumpkin, peel thickly and cut into dice as shown in pictures above
  • 300 ml (1 ½ cups) very hot water
  • 2 level tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 200 g (1 ½ cups) fine grain cous cous
  • As much coriander leaves (cilantro) as you like, to garnish
  • As much sliced fresh chilli as you like, to garnish
  1. Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and when moderately hot, add the cumin seeds and stir, ensuring they don’t burn. When they start to pop, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often to prevent burning.
  2. When onions are limp, sprinkle over the coriander powder, ground ginger and ground cinnamon. Stir for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add the diced pumpkin and stir until coated with the spice mixture.
  3. Put lid on and turn down heat to minimum. Allow pumpkin to sweat for 5 minutes. Open lid and stir again. Close lid and sweat another 3 – 5 minutes or until pumpkin is almost tender but still retaining its shape well, with a very slight crunch when you bite into it.
  4. Pour in the water, add the salt, stir and bring quickly to the boil so pumpkin doesn’t overcook. When liquid boils, turn off heat and immediately pour the cous cous in a steady stream, into the hot liquid. Stir quickly with a light hand, until all the cous cous is well moistened. Quickly cover and leave for 10 minutes.
  5. Open lid and gently fluff up cous cous with a large fork, taking care not to break the pumpkin. Plate cous cous and garnish with the cilantro and chilli. Eat with spicy North African tajines or meat stews, on its own or as part of a vegetarian meal. Enjoy!

As you all know, it has been a squash and pumpkin fest here in my virtual kitchen. I had to try out this recipe and I followed it to a T. It turned out beautifully. I gave it a squirt of lime juice and a sprinkling of sumac and it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!!! I should have doubled the recipe as the family really enjoyed it. Thank you Denise for a wonderful recipe! You can be sure that I will be making this again and again. Cook it I have, eat it I certainly will! 😉

This is the Pumpkin Cous Cous dish I made using Denise’s recipe.

Pumpkin Cous Cous

Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎

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  1. says

    Hey Biren & Denise,

    This pumpkin cous cous sounds so nice! At first I thought it was butternut squash, but that is probably b/c I’ve actually never cooked with fresh pumpkin. I need to though-this sounds so healthful and delicious to boot. Plus, the food of the Maghreb region is truly enchanting. Anyone who hasn’t tried it is really missing out on amazingness;)
    p.s. I’ve seen that exact white plate somewhere recently, Denise. Hmm, I wonder if my Mom has those?!

  2. says

    Wow! fantastic dish…I love cous cous and keep cooking it regularly with Indian spices and vegetables. Never tried it with pumpkin- gotta give this a try! Thanks for sharing :)

  3. says

    Hi Denise….the Pumpkin Cous Cous looks delicious and healthy and with a touch of Maghreb countries. And thanks for sharing the recipe with us.

    Hi Biren…thanks for inviting Denise as your guest . Great post!

  4. says

    Eeeeek! Two of my favorite bloggers on one blog, oh what a delightful way to start my day! I’ve never been to the countries of the Maghreb before and would love to someday, but for now I think I’ll wait till my kiddies get a bit older. In other words, what I really mean is, “heck, I’m lucky I even get out of the house in one piece lol.”

    Denise, you’re like the fairy godmother in Cinderella, working magic before my eyes. You’ve turned this simple pumpkin into something that looks so beautiful and healthy. I’ve never tried cous cous before and you sure are tempting me with this dish. Great guest post!

    Biren, if I hadn’t read all the way through, I would’ve thought the last picture was Denise’s dish. You did such a perfect job recreating her beautiful dish! It looks exactly like hers. Great job! I wish my attempts at other bloggers’ dishes would turn out as wonderfully as yours did. Oh and by the way, I’m still super jealous that you have an autographed version of Denise’s cookbook.

    Thank you for the great guest post ladies!

    • Biren says

      Thanks LeQuan! You are always so sweet :)

      It was fun recreating Denise’s dish. It was really delicious and even as I look at it now, I feel like having it again.

  5. says

    Thank you, everyone, for the lovely comments :)

    Biren – thank you not only for the invitation but for recreating my dish so beautifully! ( I LOVE that square dish btw – absolutely gorgeous and you’re right, we really should go to Williams Sonoma together!) I am beyond flattered that you thought my simple dish was worth cooking in your own kitchen and that your family enjoyed it :)

    Stella – you may be right about that white dish – it was a gift (part of a set) from my mother-in-law’s personal collection of tableware, made in the 1950s. You know me, ever the vintage junkie 😉 You really shuould try cooking with fresh pumpkin – peeling it is a bit of work 😛 but it’s quite different from canned pumpkin and definitely worth trying.

    LeQuan – Eeeeeeeeeeeek!!! Right back atcha LOL You’re always one of my favourite commenters! Awww… you say the sweetest things! It really is simple, but I think you will like this one and once you get started on cous cous you may find yourself addicted. Yikes!! 😉

    • Biren says

      Hey Denise,

      Thanks for a wonderful post and recipe! I had fun making the dish. I had all the spices and the instructions were easy to follow. It was really delicious! Wish I have some now as I am getting hungry just looking at the pictures….(smile). I will definitely double the recipe next time.

  6. says

    Biren – well done for showcasing our darling Denise! And I love that platter you used for your dish – it’s beautiful!

    Denise – your couscous sounds delicious and your writing is so evocative! If you’re enamored of the Maghreb, then have you read Isabelle Eberhardt? If not, you should. She traveled Northern Africa and wrote at the turn of the last century, often disguising herself as a man to gain access to male-only worlds. Fascinating.

    • Biren says

      Thank you Cristiane for your kind comment. Yes, the recipe is perfect for this time of the year with sugar/pie pumpkins in season. It is a great time to try it. The flesh of the pumpkins here are a little lighter in color but it works out beautifully.

  7. says

    Lovely guest post! This recipe is wonderful with all the warm spices and the pumpkin. I would love to visit Morocco one day but until then, I will be making this dish!

  8. says

    What a lovely guest post you two have created!? seriously.
    Denise, this dish is just perfect for Fall. It’s elegant, colorful, and flavorful. I can tell from seasonings you have put. Beautiful photos. Love the setting and plating!

    Biren, that’s so sweet and touching that you also made Denise’s recipe and shared on the same post. I luv it!

    • Biren says

      Tanantha, so sweet of you to say that :) Now is the best time to try Denise’s recipe with pumpkins in season. It was delicious and I will cook it again.

  9. says

    Biren and Denise: A great post with not only a lovely dish that I’m definitely going to try…but just gorgeous photography. I need to get over my hesitation of trying to use a fresh pumpkin (instead of canned puree) and this may be the first recipe I try that with.

    • Biren says

      Yes Cristina, do give this recipe a try. You will not be disappointed. The pie/sugar pumpkins we have here are a little lighter in color but it works just as well. I did use half a pumpkin though as the flesh is a little thinner than what you see in Denise’s picture (the one on dicing). I made another dish with the other half of the pumpkin and will share it a little later.

  10. says

    Thanks so much for introducing us to Denise. This dish is beautiful in both look and flavor! I would love to get to Singapore one day, I’ve heard it’s absolutely beautiful!

  11. says

    Hi Denise & Biren,
    What a fun & beautiful! Great job ladies. Biren’s dish looks as good and presentable. Is cous cous more or like ‘guinoa’? Thanks so much for sharing and have a great day.
    Cheers, Kristy
    p/s Denise, new camera? ^_^

    • Biren says

      Hi Kristy! Thanks for visiting and leaving such a lovely comment. It’s a wonderful recipe and I am glad I tried it. Will certainly make it again :)

  12. says

    Wonderful to have Denise here as your guest blogger. This is a lovely post. Love both your blogs. I love pumpkin, a very healthy vegetable. We grew up eating lots of pumpkin. My mom said it’s very good for the bowel. This pumpkin couscous looks very delicious, healthy and colourful I like it.

  13. says

    what a wonderful guest post!! Thanks to Biren and Denise!
    what a perfect fall cous cous recipe, and your images are beautiful, I’m happy to see you got such good use our of your pumpkin!

  14. says

    I love the color first off, it adds the wow factor…we also tire of eating rice sometimes and this would be perfect to add fall falvros to our week night dinners, great recipe..cumin,coriander,ginger and cinnamon, lovely fall flavors
    wonderful guest post

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