Adapted from A New Book Of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden

Serves 4 (or 2 if you’re a greedy so-and-so like me!)

1.5l fish stock

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas

4 carrots, thickly sliced

4 baby turnips, quartered

2 green peppers, cored, deseeded and chopped into large pieces (I didn’t have any green pepper when I made this, so added some frozen peas instead, about 10 minutes before the other veg was cooked)

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp saffron

300g couscous

4 small mackerel, or 1kg of any firm fish

2 quinces, peeled, cored and sliced (I didn’t have any quince so I just omitted it – feel free to do the same)

1 Put the fish stock in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients and a sieve over the top, and bring to the boil. Add the chickpeas, all the vegetables, the cayenne pepper and saffron. Season, if it needs it, with salt and pepper.

2 Turn down to a low heat and simmer for about 1 hour, until the stock is good and rich, and the vegetables are really soft.

3 Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour in enough tepid water to cover it by a couple of centimetres. Leave it for 10 minutes, then strain it in a seive.

4 Put the fish and the quince, if you’re using it, into the broth, then place the sieve over the saucepan of bubbling broth. Balance a lid over the sieve and cook for about 10 minutes. Check the fish and quince, and if they’re not cooked, leave for a further 5 minutes (you can leave the couscous where it is if you do need to cook the other stuff for longer).

5 Check the broth for seasoning, adjust if necessary, then pile the fish, vegetables and broth over the couscous in large soup bowls, and get stuck in!

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