I've been thinking about this subject for years. It's endlessly fascinating to me that all of us, regardless of where on this planet we may live, must find a way to feed ourselves and our families, and we do it in such diverse and interesting ways. In the U.S. and Europe, we generally eat with knife and fork. In other places, they eat with two sticks of wood. And in still other places, they rip apart bread and pick food up with it, making everything they eat either a "dip" or a "wrap". In the U.S., a hamburger, french fries and a coke is practically a national symbol. In India, a hamburger would be a sacrilege. Unthinkable.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had come back from India changed. I also said that I wasn't trying for sainthood, but rather attempting some sort of balance. My dilemma isn't about how to prepare chicken. Or fish. It's how to make a vegetarian meal that is substantial enough to be satisfying, and simple enough so that the idea of doing it appeals to this working woman. Tasty isn't a problem. I can make anything taste good.
So working within those parameters, I turned once again to Claudia Roden's recipe for Moroccan Couscous. It seems that I'm not alone this time. Ann, over at A Chicken In Every Granny Cart seems to be on the same page. But while she opted for the authentic approach, I went for the "down and dirty". Someday I will cook this grain in a more traditional way, using a colander (absent a couscousiere). But in the meantime, I used about a cup of couscous, poured boiling water over it slowly, watching for signs that it was swelling. When the grains began to swell, I made sure there was a little extra water in the pot and then I covered it, letting the steam do the rest.
Meanwhile, I added the following, mostly following Roden's recipe, but using no meat, and altering the rest of it to suit my whim:
2 1/2 TBS olive oil
6 pearl onions, halved
1/2 onion, chopped
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 turnip, peeled and cubed
about 8 "baby" carrots, halved
large handful of dried, unsulphured apricots, chopped
1 tomato, skinned and chopped
about 2/3 cup green beans, halved.
about 1/2 cup chopped parsley
dash of ground ginger
healthy dash of cinnamon
healthy dash of Hungarian paprika
red chili powder to taste
salt and black pepper to taste
Heat oil in pan and add the onions, turnips, carrots and stir. Add spices and continue stirring. Add a small amount of water, salt and pepper, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes. Add the tomatoes, string beans, chickpeas and apricots. Stir and cover for about 10-15 minutes, or until the last ingredients are cooked. Add the couscous, stir and adjust the seasonings.If I made this again, I'd consider adding some sliced almonds to it. However, I served this with the stuffed eggplant dish I wrote about in my last post, and the pine nuts were sufficient.
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