I bought this costly packet of couscous(also known by many other names such as sekrou, seksu, maghribiyya, suksukaniyya etc. in various regions) from Godrej Nature’s Basket simply because it sounded funny to me to say ‘couscous’. If you are a Tamilian you know why! I will spare the rest of you the sordid details of how I pronounced it and why it sounded funny! Since this is a food blog I must maintain a certain decorum (did you notice how subtle I have been so far?). So comments guessing as to why I found it funny will be promptly deleted if found the least bit nauseating!!
Well, since the small print to this post has been given dealt with in a big way, we can go ahead with the rest of the post.
This derivative of wheat, a tad bigger than semolina, has a slightly different taste as compared to semolina. It has traveled, gaining rapid popularity all over the Mediterranean region, and had it’s humble origin at Maghrib. However, it is not a staple in India which is why I bought the imported stuff, shelving out Rs.250 (I think! I no longer have the package) for 500g of couscous. If you are an Indian living in India and as intrigued by the grain as I was, don’t go and spend like I did unless you are bent upon it. This one tastes exactly like vari, an alternative grain which was considered a weed in paddy fields and later on became an agricultural produce. Vari takes quite some time to cook whereas boxed couscous comes pre-cooked.
Like rice it can take on any accompaniment with elan making the combination a unique experience each time. Here is how we had the first batch of couscous I tried. I used the precooked boxed version. I call mine Meditarranean because I used red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms, olive oil, generous doses of dried parsley, rosemary – all these are Mediterranean flavours.
Dish: Meditarranean Couscous Salad
Yield: Serves 3
1 and 3/4 cups – Precooked boxed couscous (I used Agnesi)
2.5 cups – Water
Onion – 1 medium sized, finely chopped
Tomato – 2 small ones, chopped rough
Half a red bell pepper and half a yellow bell pepper
A few flowerets of cauliflower
A handful of shelled fresh peas
5 buttom mushrooms – halved
Potato – One cut into long thin wedges
Olive oil – 1 + 1 tbsp.
Dried parsley – 1tsp approx. I just sprinkled lots.
Dried rosemary – Same as above
Dried mint – Same as above
Dried garlic flakes – Really lots!
Salt to taste
A pinch of turmeric (optional)
Heat the water with salt to taste and 1 tsp. olive oil till it boils. Pour the couscous. Stir and cover.
Meanwhile pre-heat oven at grill mode. Cut and wash the vegetables (peppers and potatoes). Drizzle 1 tbsp. olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and paprika if you like (I did not use any red chilli powder or paprika). Grill till charred and potatoes are brown and done crisp.
Heat the rest of the oil in a wok. Fry onions to brown and add tomatoes. Add salt and cook further till oil oozes out. Now add mushrooms and cover and cook till done. Remove from fire add herbs, garlic flakes, grilled vegetables and stir everything together.
The couscous must have cooled nicely and absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork and serve with the vegetables on the side like this,
Mix up the vegetables with the couscous well and serve as a single meal. I liked this better as the flavours blend so well once mixed up.