Monday, November 24, 2008

Couscous Anyone?

Couscous Anyone?

“Fervet olla, vivit amicitia”: While the pot boils, friendship endures. (i.e. the man who gives good dinners has plenty of friends).~Latin Proverb

I have long accepted my addiction, and I am perfectly happy with keeping it that way! Food, yes F-O-O-D, for me it’s much more than just sustenance, or staying alive. It’s the heart of my soul, the fulfillment of my day and the enjoyment of my time. Every aspect of this wonderful four letter “f’ word is appealing to me; preparation, cooking and of course last but certainly not in the least, eating to my heart’s content. This reminds me of the commercial that says, “Does dark, slowly melting, European chocolate feed you or your soul?”
It is obvious that as varied as my taste is, I would discover new recipes and put them to the test of my kitchen’s prowess. One such dish I recently tried was Couscous which is very popular in the Maghreb region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania). It comprises of small spherical granules made from semolina and durum wheat which is steamed and served with a meat or vegetable stew.

Much to my surprise whilst shopping through the grocery aisles I noticed above the sacks of basmati rice, about half a dozen boxes of pre-cooked Couscous grains. It was Roland’s brand of Couscous and the directions seemed quite straight forward. I knew there would be no guarantee that I would get this again if I did decide to go ahead and try it, so without further deliberation I plopped it into my cart and off I went. It was reasonably priced, so it wouldn’t be a bad loss if things didn’t go as planned :)

Now began my searches for authentic recipes off the net. If I was going to do this I wanted to try to do it as close to the “real” dish as possible with the resources available. There is a special pot used for its preparation, called the couscoussière (traditional steamer for couscous). I obvioulsy didn’t have one so I sought a preparation that I could do and it would still be authentic. All the while I asked more than a dozen of my friends who ate Couscous regularly to further endow my memory bank. Then I came across Alia on youtube :). She does various videos on cooking Maghreb dishes using western styled kitchen utensils. After taking her advice on certain questions that I still had after reading her elaborate web page, I began to make my couscous list of food items.

A couscoussière a traditional steamer for couscous.

Excited with overlying anxiety I shuffled though the kitchen with the help of my father who assisted in helping me prepare the vegetables prior to cooking. If I could watch her video on youtube why not watch it while I was actually cooking? So with streaming video on hand, printed recipe and an able store of cooking ability I prepared my first Couscous. I had no previous experience in any Maghreb dish nor a taste for their cuisine so to be tensed and excited were norms of the moment.
I’m happy to say, after 2 hours of experimentation my first attempt at Couscous was met with appreciative tasters. If I should quote my brother saying, “At least you know how to cook one great dish….finally!” Don’t be dismayed, I do however know how to cook many dishes and I assure you they are very much edible and tasty, however one can indeed understand the exaggeration and teasing of an older sibling. Here are some pictures of My Couscous for I am yet to taste authentic Maghreb Couscous. It is my sincere hope my attempt was not far off from its taste.

“What’s this taste?”
“It’s the taste of taste”
“I love the taste of taste!”

“The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star.” ~Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Pictures of my Couscous

My First Attempt at Couscous

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  1. yummi,yummi..mashAllah. if it tasted as well as it looks at the pics, then u did really good work :) aw, cant wait seeing u cook 4 me one day inshAllah..awwww yay :D

  2. inshaAllah khair :D
    It would be my utmost pleasure afterall what kind of abla would I be if I couldn't cook for my lil hayatim ;)

  3. not bad .little bit nice to see.
    Kitchen Equipment