Slideshow: How to Make Hand-Rolled Couscous, from NY Shuk at Haven's Kitchen

Family Meal
Family Meal
For their first class, Ron and Leetal chose to focus on the Jewish cuisine of North Africa.
Ouzu Cocktail
Ouzu Cocktail
After introducing themselves and their business, Ron and Leetal began the evening by making an ouzu cocktail.

They had hoped to use arak, a Middle Eastern anise-flavored spirit, but settled for the similar-tasting ouzo when they couldn't find it. The alcohol was mixed with grapefruit juice, simple syrup, zest of orange and clementine, and rose syrup.

[Photograph: Chris Crowley]

Flick and Spray
Flick and Spray
The first stage of making couscous is to flick the semolina and flour with water. Ron grew tired of using his hands, and repurposed an everyday spray bottle for the task. (Think of those plastic cooling fans you get in the summer.)

[Photograph: Chris Crowley]

Rolling the Couscous
Rolling the Couscous
Notice the accumulated beads of water on the side of the bowl. The process of sprinkling and rolling the semolina and flour is repeated again and again until a desired consistency is reached. This depends on the size of the couscous you're making.

[Photograph: Chris Crowley.]

Coming Along
Coming Along
Notice the smaller, smoother balls and the clumps. Evolution, baby.
Stirring and Steaming
Stirring and Steaming
After the couscous is rolled to a satisfactory state, it is steamed in a couscousiere, a two-chamber pot.

"You can use stock or soup for the steaming liquid, but I use water because I prefer the natural flavor of the semolina," Ron offered.

Starting the Tanzeya
Starting the Tanzeya
To begin the tanzeya, here a stew of dried fruit tossed with almonds, Ron adds sugar, spices, and then the soaking water from the dried fruit. The mix was brought to a boil before a cocktail of apricots, dates, raisins, and prunes were added.

[Photograph: Chris Crowley]

Cooking the Tanzeya
Cooking the Tanzeya
"Normally when I make tanzeya," Ron said, "I do it as low-and-slow as possible. But because we only have so much time, I am cooking it over a higher flame and using water here to quicken the process."
Stirring the Fruit
Stirring the Fruit
"Lower the temperature and reduce the liquids slowly" Ron instructed. "Everything needs to be shiny, kind of like a jam. It's very versatile, one of the reasons I choose it."
Roasted Carrots, Gettin' Chopped
Roasted Carrots, Gettin' Chopped
These carrots were sprinkled with salt and water, then covered with water in a deep pan and roasted.
Ron and Students
Ron and Students
All smiles as they prepare the roasted chilies.
Chilies
Chilies
Ron would normally use a food processor to get the chilies for his matsi mashweeya down to the desired consistency, but students here used knives.

When asked about what chilies they used he responded, "We used serrano and Thai." But use what you have on hand. "It's not something that's going to break your meal. You have to learn to improvise."

The Couscous and the Sieve
The Couscous and the Sieve
"I push it through the sieve as much as I can, but never push it down," Ron explained. "I throw away what doesn't go through. It's too bad, you work so hard to get this!"

After taking the couscous out of the couscousiere, the next step is to pass it through the sieve. For our class, the couscous that didn't pass through the sieve was tossed. But that's just one way of making the staple.

"To get a bigger couscous that's not very fine like ours," Ron told us, "all the couscous that gets stuck in the sieve gets kept. All that passes through gets sprayed with water and rolled again."

Crushin' Coriander
Crushin' Coriander
"I tried to buy ground coriander and its impossible to use it. It's not a spice. It's like putting sand in your food," Ron said.

Ron and Leetal are spice evangelists—or, as Ron likes to say, "very spicy." The proper treatment of spices is, for him, "one way of showing how you can take the simplest ingredient and get the most out of it."

The Finished Couscous
The Finished Couscous
Behold, hand-rolled couscous. One of the few instances where the use of "hand-" is truly justified.

"Because it's a manual process, it's never going to be completely the same from one time to the next. But I think that's part of the charm."

Matisha Masheewya
Matisha Masheewya
Matisha mashweeya ("roasted tomatoes") is a kind of spread or salsa made of roasted tomatoes and chilies. Its the sort of stuff that you dream of spreading over crusty baguettes, without further embellishments.

"It's very important to understand that this is just one layer of flavor. Although, technically, peppers aren't flavor. It's pain," Ron joked.

Tanzeya
Tanzeya
After the dried fruits are finished cooking, they're mixed with roasted almonds. It's important to do this while the fruits are still hot from the pot.
Salada de Chizo
Salada de Chizo
Our two salads were, truly, a group effort. This one is a mix of roasted carrots and chopped cilantro, tossed with lemon zest, ground chili, and spices.
Leg of Lamb
Leg of Lamb
Our leg of lamb was dressed simply, just salt, black pepper and sage, and roasted in the oven until fork-tender.
Happy Guests
Happy Guests
If only all school days ended this way.