A different tasteThe August theme for Shhh Cooking Secretly was exciting. Participating pairs travelled to different parts of the world. We're going to be able to see dishes that are prepared in Indonesia, Brazil, Morocco, Sri Lanka, France and Mediterranean. I'm eagerly waiting to see what they all prepare. My partner for this month is the talented and friendly Shobha Keshwani. Her blog Shobha's Food Mazaa has different types of recipes ranging from simple chutneys to complex breads.If you're ever looking for some authentic Sindhi recipes then be sure to check out her blog.
Shobha and I got Moroccan cuisine. She gave me couscous and olives as the ingredients to prepare some Moroccan dish and I gave her lentils and tomatoes.Must admit that though I have heard a little bit about Moroccan food, I never really checked out the cuisine in detail as most of their dishes are meat based. So having couscous as one of the ingredients I was really happy. Couscous is a staple for any Moroccan dish. Couscous is served with stews or tagine as its called. Tagine is usually prepared from chicken or lamb.
The Berbers, the first inhabitants of Morocco used locally available ingredients like olives, figs, dates to prepare the stew. Over time traders and conquerors influenced new food customs. However the strongest influence in cuisine came after the Arab invasion. They brought with them different spices, cooking sweet and sour food. Later invasion by British and French added more flavours to their food. Modern Moroccan cuisine includes salads made from couscous.
I decided to make a refreshing and filling salad with the two ingredients given to me by Shobha... couscous and olives. This couscous salad is quite different from the ones prepared in the Mediterranean region. Moroccans tend to flavour their food with a mixture of spices. The most famous spice is 'Ras El Hanout'. It means 'head of the shop'. This spice is used as a marinate and the blend can vary from a few spices to up to 30 different spices. No two blends are the same. It varies from shop to shop.
I made a seven spice blend to add to the salad. This salad is definitely very unique, sweet and sour with spices. Check out the recipe.
|seven spice blend|
½ cup couscous
½ cup hot water
¼ tsp salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
¼ cup cranberries or raisins
2 cloves of garlic-minced
1 medium onion -cut into rings
3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup chopped fresh coriander
½ cup diced red bell pepper (or any other colour)
12-14 olives (green or black)
½ cup grated carrot
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
1-2 tbsp seven spice blend
For Seven Spice Blend:
1½ tbsp black pepper powder
1 tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp clove powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp cardamom powder
generous pinch of nutmeg powder
- Put couscous in a bowl.
- Pour hot water over the couscous. Add salt and mix. Cover the bowl and let the couscous soak for 5 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp olive oil. Fluff up the couscous using a fork. Leave it on the side till its required.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wide pan. Add onion rings and stir fry till they are caramelized.
- Add minced garlic, diced red pepper,cranberries or raisins, olives and chickpeas. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add salt and the seven spice blend. Mix well.
- Take the pan off the heat.
- Add the mixture to the couscous. Add grated carrot, coriander and lemon juice.
- Mix well.
- Put the salad in the fridge to cool till required.
- Add saffron if you like to the couscous.
- Add orange juice for a different flavour.
- Coking instructions for couscous may vary. Read the instructions on the packet.
- Fluff up the couscous gently using a fork.
- Store the remaining spice in an airtight container. Use to it marinade meat or use it again for your salad.
- I soaked ½ cup of chickpea overnight in warm water. Next day I drained out the water and added fresh water. I added ½ tsp salt and cooked the chickpeas in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles. Drained out the water and used the chickpeas for the salad.
You may want to check out the following:
|eggplant yogurt salad|
|Burrito Bowl Salad|
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