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.


  1. So very yummy! Although I don't eat fish :P. Would love to try the vegetarian recipe.

  2. Hey PJ
    kya baat hai, we both posted today moroccan dish!! I would try the vegetarian dish...

  3. Gotcha, that means you did not read the entire leaves here in US can be found in any Indian Grocery store.Love couscous but vegetarian style...lovely picture..

  4. Preeti, thanks! yeah, try the vegetarian version with either chickpeas or paneer :)

    Jagruti, i know! i was just thinking you pass me some moroccan bread and i pass you some veg stew and lets make it a meal, shall we :D

    A2Z vegetarian cuisine, aha, got it! i have never seen it around here near my indian grocery.. may be i should try another grocery store around. thanks!

  5. Our favorite Sunday special was chicken curry with rice and the regional language movie. Now there are way too many TV channels for anything to be special.

    This fish dish is making me crave. Olives are one thing that I cannot come to liking. But they look beautiful in the picture and those sliced potatoes too.

  6. Delicious.. fish and olives is a wonderful combination. Sundays are hectic.. going to church and then generally its family time.

  7. Moroccan fish stew with olives and potatoes, wow, so yummy I am drooling. which brand couscous do you use?

  8. Indo, so true! there are so many TV channels and shows that really there is no special to look forward to. Olives was an acquired taste for me too.. I still can't get to the greek large black olives (too strong for me) but I like the small black and green ones.

    Nostalgia, it is so interesting to read about everyone's Sunday routines. MY best Sundays are the ones which are laziest.. :D

    Amita, I buy whole wheat couscous from Trader Joe's. Dont know which brand =p, but I think they only have one.. its very good, infact the only whole wheat couscous that I really like! Try it sometimes.

  9. Sounds delicious .. i think i can try this without fish as I am veggie..Nice clicks and nice profile picture too PJ. Do Post ur authentic marathi subzi soon waiting for it.

  10. beautiful clicks pj,very tempting dish and sounds really interesting...

  11. Pavithra, thanks! Yes, that bhaji is on my to-post list :) This moroccan dish would surely go well with any veg alternative too.

    Sushma, thanks! I am so glad you liked the dish :)

  12. I will def. try the veg. version with panner.

  13. Hi PJ, love the flavours going in the stew and surely will try the veg version. It's high time I try my hand on Moroccan cuisine.
    When u mention paneer, i really thought it as a good alternative to fish and can be baked well.
    I love patvaadicha rassa and thanks for reminding it's been ages I made that too..looking forward to read ur version of it.

  14. Moroccan fish stew sounds truly divine and fantastic.....thanks for sharing the veg version too..

  15. Truly adore your picture, this is something new but love the way you prepare it, looks delicious PJ..

  16. I like to try this with paneer. Lovely click.

  17. I love all the layers of flavor you have going on here!

    Growing up, Sunday was non-veg day at my parents' home (and I did eat meat back then), so it was either Kolhapuri rassa or biryani for a big heavy lunch. That was the only day off (Saturdays were half-day school), and the only day with any TV programming that I wanted to watch, like He- Man :D

  18. Oh you brought back so many memories of childhood. though in Santiniketan we had wednesday off so not much TV programmes but Sundays were special with Baba being at home. am drroling at that stew. would definitely try this as we love moroccan cuisine. bookmarked.

  19. As a child, my favorite memory of a lazy sunday morning was when my mom or dad tells me not go to sunday church class ;)..hahhaha....ofcourse food is the top priority always, and mine was a pure central travancore catholic family, where sunday means Beef fry, Yucca and Rice ;)
    Nice click and fish stew looks so delicious...

  20. How i wish i had this fish stew. The flavours in them are so so delicous.

  21. The fish stew looks so wonderful. The fish and the olives are existing in harmony in this dish.

  22. Latha, yeah, try try the veg version. I am sure you would love it!

    Pari, I know, I think paneer will be delicious alternative.. as I was thinking what to replace fish with, I think paneer would take the marinate flavors really well.

    Priya, thanks! I am so glad you liked the veg version :)

    Treat and Trick, thanks! with olives and dried fruits its really nice moroccan flavors :) i am sure you will love it!

    Kamala, thanks! I am so glad you liked the dish and yeah, try the paneer version, I think it would come out well.

  23. Nupur, aha, so you used to like He-man too! I loved watching it too, but I always thought if I was the only girl who enjoyed that cartoon show :) Kolhapuri rassa sounds so delicious!

    Sayantani, thanks! Wednesday off sounds like such a good idea.. I have heard so many good things about that school.

    Sarah, heh heh, yeah, that sounds like the right priorities for any kids... I had the same :) The menu sounds so delicious!

    Happy Cook, thanks! I am so glad you liked the stew.

    Cool Lassi(e), oh, I love fish with olives and when I end up ending those bits of dried fruits its just harmony in your mouth :D

  24. wow pj...lovely moroccean fish stew..looks rich....nice presentation too...

  25. This is the second Moroccan dish I came across today..looks terrific !
    Happy womens day PJ and the new profile pic is cool :-)

  26. Reshmi, thanks! I am so glad you liked the fish stew and the presentation :)

    Gulmohar, I know, somehow a lot of blogger friends ended up posting Moroccan recipes yesterday :) Happy womens day to you too, Namitha!

  27. This looks like another winner!

    I just wanted to tell you that I made- and LOVED- your Ethiopian sambussas! Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  28. Hi Lele, thanks so much for stopping by and letting me know that you loved the sambussas.. that sure makes my day :)

  29. Hello, nice Moroccan dish but i would love the veg version only. :) We can swap something in the place of fish. right?
    Hey..i want something marathi dish now. Post some yummy marathi dish pls!! I know you are all-rounder cook and can cook the recipes from all over the world. :) :)

  30. Hello, nice Moroccan dish but i would love the veg version only. :) We can swap something in the place of fish. right?
    Hey..i want something marathi dish now. Post some yummy marathi dish pls!! I know you are all-rounder cook and can cook the recipes from all over the world. :) :)

  31. I love spicy chicken for a lazy sunday!
    I never tasted a couscous stew with fish -but i love instantly:)
    Usually the couscous is served with a variety of meat... which I loved till today!

  32. Sudays were special.....Ma used to cook mutton curry/ fish curry. And I was an avid fan of Panchtantra stories, SpiderMan....Very tempting dish and beautiful click too.

  33. awesome yaa, looks so good!

  34. Sonia, that sounds perfect, for you, I'll post a Marathi recipe soon :)

    Cham, oooh.. spicy chicken on a Sunday sounds so delicious! I love couscous its so versatile and goes so well with so many meats and veggie dishes!

    Deepa, I used to love those Panchtantra stories too! aha, the good old days :)

    Aruna, thanks! I am so glad you liked the stew with couscous.

  35. Oh PJ,this is an amazingly rocking post....u have everything written about the stew and i love the detailed foodie knowledge u always line up and what a delightful recipe with splendid pics to boost ...i love a lazy as well as active sunday and urs sounds way way good....
    have jus darted u am email and am so glad to hear from ya.....

  36. Nice pictures .I am a vegetarian .So no comments .Tell us the secret of your lovely pictures.

  37. this sounds absolutely delectable!

  38. Mia, thanks! lazy Sundays are my favorites when there is nothing more to do than sleep and eat :D and may be sleep some more! I am so glad you liked the stew.

    Padhu, there is a vegetarian alternative with paneer or chickpeas; I think both will go really well as a replacement for fish with the marinade here.

    Aqua, thanks! and thanks for the tip about the book-club too, I am on board now and looking forward to the first read.

  39. hey this looks yummy..will try the veg version..never have tried morrocon cuisine..

  40. Thanks for providing the veg alternative..nice clicks

  41. I love dishes that remind me of home. It makes them all the more warm and comforting. This sounds great.

  42. Deepa, oh, you should definitely try Moroccan, if you love olives then for sure go for it! just replace fish with paneer or soemthing and it would still taste awesome!

    Parita, thanks! I am so glad you liked the clicks.

    Joanne, so true, thats why I think comfort food is such a relative term :)

  43. Again one more unique delicious recipe from you.Will ty this one once i buy fish

  44. Wonderful presentation. Mroccon fish curry looks spicy, delicious and mouth watering.

  45. I like the way you write:)

    Fish stew is just wonderful with all sour tasting fruits...with couscous, gosh must have tasted heavenly:)

  46. This sounds super!!!must try it the next time im in the mood for something different!

  47. Shahana, I hope you try it, its really delicious specially if you like Moroccan cuisine.

    Babli, thanks! I am so glad you liked the spicy Moroccan curry.

    Malar, thanks! I am happy you liked my writing :) Yes, the olives and dried fruits makes this dish for me for sure!

    s, oh yeah, try it definitely and let me know how it goes!

  48. Lovely recipe PJ..I just read the post at deepas, came over to say it was nice to read about the dal-paratha- date :)

  49. PJ - I love the variation! Man, your stew looks delicious. I wish that my pictures were as lovely as these!

  50. Ruchika, thanks for stopping by and I am so glad you liked the guest post and the daal-paratha date :)

    Tina, all thanks to you for this wonderful recipe. I loved it the instant I saw it through my Google search.

  51. First timer here from Deepas !
    Just browsing through your posts, you have got nice flare of writing. You might see me often around now :)

    Btw about Sunday Afternoon even I recollect 12 noon chayageet and heavy fish or meat lunch @ my place. Me and my BRO used to wait desperately till we get the aromatic stuffs from the kitchen :D.. you just brought those memories back !

  52. Ahhh..those wonderful memories of chayageet and chitrahaar....hey nice post on deepa's blog too..

    fish stew looks very tempting

  53. Love the green and spicy chermoula marinade.I eat salmon at least twice a week,can't wait to try it Moroccan style :D

  54. Kanchan, welcome to my blog! I am glad you stopped by. Aha, I think you are right, Chhayageet might be 12'0 clock afterall. Like Indo says above, with this multiple channels we have for TV now, any lure of watching a particular program is so not there!

    SE, thanks! It was so wonderful of Deepa to have me as a guest blogger! I am so glad you liked the fish strew.

    Yasmeen, oh, if you love salmon I am sure you will love Moroccan version.. I prefer all my salmon done this way, but ofcourse it takes a bit more time than regular.

  55. Wow!!That look great but I need to replace fish with the alternative:)..I just posted 3 moroccan dishes last week .Looks likes its raining moroccan dishes in our world!!!

  56. looks so good..i wanted to try couscous for so long but haven't tried it yet..


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