During our first year of marriage, V took me to a Moroccan restaurant . Yes V……I know I keep complaining that he is not adventurous and all that but it was the honeymoon phase and he pulled out all the stops !!! Lately I have to admit he is slowly going back there and I have to say I love him for it…I am sure its not easy for him ! Anyway back to the restaurant …….it was an exotic evening ……with exotic food and dancing. I enjoyed myself very much. I loved the food . Later I discovered that even though the restaurant had the cliche’d décor and ambience, the food was authentic. During my research into moroccan cuisine , I found the recipes of many of the dishes I had eaten that evening. Now don’t go assuming that this post is about a moroccan recipe…….no….its about couscous, the tiny grain like pasta that is so popular in that part of the world.
Couscous is a pasta that has been eaten in North Africa and its European neighbours from ancient times, with its first written reference found all the way back in the 13th century !!! Its mostly made from semolina or durum wheat. Though in some regions like west Africa it is made from barley or millet while in Brazil it is made from cornmeal. It is a labour intensive process and traditionally all the women would gather and make couscous by hand and dry it for 4 days before using it for months. The instant couscous that is available in most supermarkets has been pre steamed and dried so you just pour boiling water and 5 minutes later you have cooked couscous !! Properly made couscous is light and fluffy not gummy or gritty.
I have always wanted to make couscous but not able to find a vegetable tagine that I liked, I kept putting it off. But every since I have changed my diet and started eating lighter foods, I have been trying to find healthier ways to eat carbs other that my usual rice based dishes …..lets face it in south Indian cuisine even dosas and idlis are made from rice !!! I have been experimenting and finally figured out some reasonable compromises . I found a Couscous Salad in an Ina Garten cookbook that appealed to me and after giving it a few tweaks my style…its now a staple salad in our house. I call in a CONFETTI COUSCOUS but you can also call it the kitchen sink salad as I have thrown in everything but the kitchen sink. It makes for a very good looking salad with the vegetables and dried fruit looking like confetti hence the name !!!It made a tasty and welcome addition to a lunch I had recently. I love this salad….the couscous is light but creamy at the same time ‘coz the tangy and spicy dressing coats it lovingly. The vegetables are crisp , the beans are soft but still chewy. The curry powder and turmeric provide just the right hint of exotic to set it apart from the every day. It has an amazing mix of textures and flavours. The first time I made it V found it a little dry and did not want me to make it again and then finally one day I had no time and no lettuce to make another salad so he reluctantly said okay to it …..I made the dressing creamier and added a little more and now he likes it !!! I told you he’s trying very hard !!!!!
1 ½ cups Couscous
4 tbsp Olive Oil
1 ½ cups boiling Water
¼ cup Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp Mayonnaise ( made with olive oil )
1 tbsp Sour Cream
Juice of 1 Lime
1 tsp Curry Powder
¼ tsp Turmeric
1 ½ tsp Chilli Powder
1 tsp Pepper
½ cup grated Carrots
2-3 tbsp minced Cilantro
2-3 tbsp Raisins
2-3 tbsp dried Cranberries
2 Scallions / Spring Onions, chopped
2-3 tbsp toasted slivered Almonds
¼ cup chopped Red Onions
¼ cup Chickpeas, cooked
¼ cup Black Beans, cooked
¼ cup Cherry tomatoes, halved
To the boiling water , add 1 tbsp olive oil.
Pour it over the couscous , raisins and cranberries. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes.
To make the dressing, mix together the yogurt with mayo, sour cream, olive oil, lime juice, slat , pepper , curry powder and turmeric.
After 5 minutes , use a fork and fluff the couscous. It should be fluffy and light. It should not clump together.
Add the vegetables, beans, cilantro and almonds.
Fluff again using a fork. This will ensure that the couscous does not clump up .
Before you are ready to serve, add the dressing . Mix well