PREP EGGPLANT: Quarter the eggplant, and cut into large chunks (1 1/2 inches at widest part). Place in a big bowl, cover with cool water just to enough to cover, and stir in the salt. Place a plate over top to keep the eggplant submerged 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry. (Don’t rinse.)
Preheat the oven to 375F
Pan Sear: In a large dutch oven, or ovenproof skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Working in 2 batches, brown two sides of the eggplant, until golden, then set these aside. No need to cook through.
Make the stew: Add more oil to the same pan, and the onion and saute 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add the garlic, celery and red pepper and lower heat, cook until tender about 5 minutes. Lower heat to low. Add the spices, canned tomatoes (and juices), raisins, salt, pepper, chickpeas and veggie broth. Bring to simmer, stirring.
Nestle in the eggplant and give the pan a good shake so the stew levels. It should be like a stew-like. If it seems dry, add a little water. Drizzle with a little olive oil, cover tightly and place in the warm oven.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until eggplant is tender and cooked through. While it’s baking make the couscous.
Remove the lid, taste adding more salt to taste, keeping in mind the couscous will soak up some of the salt. If you feel the stew needs more flavor overall, add a little more ras el hanout, a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, tasting as you go. If it seems watery, bake uncovered for a few minutes. If dry, add a little water. To serve, Sprinkle with optional Aleppo chili flakes and fresh Parsley. I like adding an additional drizzle of olive oil, or a dollop of yogurt, up to you.
Serve with the cinnamon-scented couscous.
To make couscous: Place broth, oil, spices and salt in a medium pot, and bring to boil. Stir in couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand 7 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork. Adjust salt.