Moroccan fish stew over couscous (with a vegetarian alternative)

What is your favorite memory of a lazy Sunday morning? When I was a kid every other Sunday my mom  would make her special anda-curry or paatvadyachi bhaji (Marathi curry delicacy - I'll post sometime). It was a reward for working hard over the past week. My favorite memory of a lazy Sunday was sitting in front of TV watching Chhayageet (a songs video show which used to air at 1pm on Sunday) while smacking on the awesome curry with rice and lime wedges!

Now ofcourse all the fun is in starting my own lazy Sunday morning traditions! The idea is that you get up late, drool over coffee for another hour, then stroll to the fridge and make an otherwise not so quick cooking dish as a treat for the craziness of the week left behind. Today I had some salmon fish fillets and some olives that I picked up on sale yesterday. Some sort of moroccan fish stew sprang to my mind. A little bit of Googling and I settled on adapting this wonderful recipe. The stew was perfect over some whole wheat couscous.. except may be just one thing was missing: no Chhayageet TV show :)
Anatomy of a Moroccon stew: As I understand (and I am no expert in Moroccon cooking) the stews start with chermoula which is a marinade made out of some fresh herbs (cilantro, parsley), some dried spices (cumin, coriander) and seasonings like olive oil and lemon juice. The meat is then marinated with chermoula for a couple of hours and then cooked over stovetop with tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peppers and some Moroccan specialties such as green and black pitted olives, preserved lemons and some dried fruits. The stew has the sweet element coming from the dried fruits, sour element from tomatoes, olives and lemon juice and heat from peppers making it a perfectly balanced stew for a lazy anyday!

Moroccan fish stew over whole-wheat couscous (veg alternative at the end)
Source: adapted from here

Make a chermoula:
Very finely chop a bunch of cilantro.
Add to the chopped cilantro 2Tbsp olive oil, 1.5tsp cumin powder, 1/2tsp coriander powder, 1tsp smoked spanish paprika, chili pepper to taste, 1 minced clove of garlic, juice of 1lime and some salt and mix well.

Marinate the fish:
Clean and pat dry a salmon fillet. Rub the fillet with the marinade. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it marinate in fridge for an hour or two.

Bake the fish:
Pre-heat oven to 400F. Remove fish from the fridge and bake for 25mins or so until almost cooked. Be sure to not overcook the fish as it will cook a bit more with the stew.

Prepare the stew:
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2C fire roasted diced tomatoes (or two fresh ones)
2 small potatoes
1/2C pitted green/black olives
handful of dried apricots - chopped
1Tbsp tomato paste
1.5C water
juice of 1lime

Slice onions, red peppers, potatoes and mince some garlic. Heat olive oil in a thick bottom pan on medium heat. Add onions and garlic, saute for a few minutes until onions are tender. Add sliced potatoes and cook for a few more minutes.

Add tomatoes, red peppers, tomato paste, water, olives, apricots and season with salt. Cover and cook for 10minutes. 

Remove cooked fish from the oven, chop it into smaller pieces and add it to the stew. Cover and cook for 10more minutes until the fish is well done (flakes easily).

Remove from heat. Add lime juice and adjust the seasonings. Serve over some whole wheat couscous.

Vegetarian alternative:
Instead of fish add cooked/canned chickpeas with the chermoula. Skip the baking step and instead cook the stew with chickpeas for 20mins or so. Sayantani has a delicious Moroccan chickpea dish here which was my inspiration for suggesting chickpeas!
Another option I thought of was to add some marinated paneer instead of fish. Not very authentic Moroccan but I am sure it would taste just awesome!

1. Tomato paste is the main thickener of this stew; so do not skip it.
2. Olives and apricots are what gives it the Moroccan twist; so if possible, I strongly suggest not skipping both of these ingredients.
3. Smoked paprika and fire roasted tomatoes both give this smoky taste that I so adore. You can substitute both of these with regular paprika/chili powder and fresh tomatoes, but the smokiness won't be there.