Thursday, 27 May 2010

Thoughts on Moroccan.

First and foremost, apologies for not posting in a while, I just haven't been supremely motivated to share food knowledge as I've been so busy. But right now I've realised I'm loving food a little too much and it needs to be shared. Especially for those out there who say they "can't cook". Nonsense. I promised my flatmates I'd cook for them tomorrow (well, today) cause they all leave on Friday/this weekend. And I thought I'd use all the leftovers in the fridge/freezer. Only problem is, Moroccan equals couscous. The problem with my couscous (or froufrou as a Brazillian boy I used to live with called it) is that it's always sort of... bland. But I've been racking my brains and jotting in the old Moleskine and I think I may have come up with something exciting. Thus, welcome, Moroccan Influenced Citrus Couscous with Vegetables.

(I only call it influenced because it's not moroccan. I don't know moroccan food well, and I'm half doing this recipe towards the Algerian food I eat at the fantastic Al-Casbah on Mill Road in Cambridge).


A note: I only came up with this recipe about 10 minutes ago, so it's still in refining stages. I'll try measure everything out for tomorrow so it's all easy to follow and stuff. 



Olive oil – a light one, or vegetable/sunflower oil

Onions – I’m giving red a go as it adds colour and sweetness

Head of Garlic – it’ll be confited so it goes all sweet and mushy

Courgette – diced in generous bite sized pieces

Carrots – in rounds, fairly thin (3mm thick is a good size)

Red peppers – again, diced

Tomatoes – a good fleshy variety, ripe as you can get it

Can of chickpeas - drained


Vegetable stock – I used oxo or marigold swiss bullion

Lemon juice + zest

Fresh mint

Fresh Coriander

Cumin (powdered)

Coriander (powdered)

Cinammon (Powdered works better than sticks, if it’s sticks, simmer it in the stock for a bit)

Tumeric (powdered)


Tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

(It sounds like a lot of stuff, but if you stock up on certain spices like turmeric curry powder etc you can do a wealth of recipes. I’ll post on my favourite versatile spices later)

So, first of all you want to get the garlic confited.  Chop the top of it off so the bulbs are all exposed, put a bit of butter on top (quite a large bit in fact) then wrap it up in foil tightly and shove it in a medium to high oven for 10-15 minutes. So 150-200C. Then just take it out and let it cool.

Next, some oil on. (Cause I’m cooking for more than one, I’m doing this in a wok. It’s my least scratched pan and it’s nice and big). Just cover the bottom of it and add the spices, going easy on the turmeric, or things will go sour and bitter. You want a nice easy sizzle going. 

While the spices roast through, add a bit of water to help it cook through, and a teaspoon of tomato paste. Then a base is made.

Next, turn the heat up and then add the veg. Leave the tomatoes and garlic till later. 

(I did have an idea for the carrots which involves par boiling them, then adding some orange juice and cumin seeds to finish boiling them, and draning and adding with the veg. All this does is add some interesting citrusy sweet tones to the dish. If you can’t be bothered, boil them til al dente and add in now).

Cook until the vegetables are coated nicely in the spiced until they’re coated and the onion is browning, then turn the heat right down. While this is happening, take the garlic out the papery skins and add to the pan.  Then add the couscous and mix through nicely.

Next, you want to add the juice of half the lemon, the vegetable stock (as a rule, I do equal amounts of liquid and couscous. It comes out nice and fluffy then). Season to taste, take off the heat, cover and leave for a little bit for the couscous to soak up the liquid. 

While that’s being absorbed, chop up mint and coriander, a ration of 1:3 (don’t bother being exact, it’s just leaves). Uncover and stir the couscous, adding the herbs, zest and remaining lemon juice and tomatoes. Double check the seasoning et voila. 

Okay, so this hasn’t exactly been tried, but when it has, I will amend the amounts, and any revisions that need to be made to the recipe.