Flaming Hot Couscous
This irresistible spicy, tangy and ever so slightly sweet couscous is for all the flavour lovers out there! The versatile side dish works great with bbq, roast vegetables, meat, stew or with sandwiches and it will not go unnoticed. If someone says they don't like couscous, this one will convert them. It's tried and tested, and there is no other recipe like this one out there!
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time : 40 minutes
Couscous, traditionally included in North African cuisine, is a dish that's commonly served as a cold salad or warm with meat, stews or vegetables. Couscous has an inherent nutty taste and the texture is a little firmer than rice. It is also said to be healthier than rice with higher protein content, higher fibre content and has more vitamins and minerals. This flaming hot version makes a delicious change.
My first experience of eating couscous was in a Moroccan restaurant on a very cold night. It was served with a stew in a beautiful tagine (which is a ceramic cooking vessel). I'm not sure if it was comfort of the flavourful warm stew and couscous, the beautiful colourful and dimly lit setting or the incredible flavours but the food that night has made a place in my memory.
Since then I have had couscous many times, mostly as a cold salad or steamed with slight variances in flavour profiles. I've always loved the texture of couscous but the taste was always okay, so I decided to make a version of my own. At first try the recipe turned out delicious, I found myself reaching for a pen and paper to write down what I had done so I could record how to achieve the perfect balance of flavours.
My parents who are my biggest critics (shamelessly so!) are visiting from England after 4 years. Neither of them enjoy couscous so experimenting with this recipe in their presence was the ultimate test. I found them both thoroughly enjoying it and taking seconds, they both said they were surprised to have enjoyed it! In my mom's words; 'The balance of spices and texture of the vegetables was perfect in bringing out the right flavours to make it really tasty. It was truly a stand out dish'. Like I said, this one will not go unnoticed when you serve it.
This couscous recipe is spicy, tangy and very slightly sweet. It's this bold flavour that makes it delicious, but you can alter all the spice levels depending on your taste and the couscous will still taste delicious.
Fluff the couscous well or there will be lumps that won't catch all the spices and
flavours. It very easy to do, simply losen the couscous beads with a fork until there are no more lumps.
Be sure not to make the onions too brown or they will lose their sweetness and taste bitter.
Make sure you take the pot off the stove after adding water to the couscous so it doesn't get too dry.
Couscous is in-fact available at any grocery store, and the most commonly found one is Moroccan couscous, it looks like semolina. There are also 2 other types of couscous but they are larger and resemble small pasta, but that is not the kinds used for this recipe.
Cayenne pepper adds a great spice to the dish but it can be replaced with any other chilli powder that you have
Kashmiri chilli powder is used to add colour to the dish which make a great appeal, it is however optional if you don't have it at hand. I got mine from The Spice Merchant
Jalapeno pepper adds another dimension of flavour to the dish, try not to skip this ingredient.
Lime The juice of an entire lime is required for this dish, I recommend using a fresh lime rather than he bottled lime. The fragrance of a fresh lime is unmatched.
Flaming hot couscous recipe
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup couscous
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 orange or yellow pepper, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped, or 1 thai green chilli, chopped
2 tsp cayenne chilli powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric
2 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (optional)
1. Warm olive oil on medium heat in a small pot, then add the couscous and stir constantly until the colour changes slightly to a light golden colour, this should only take 2-3 minutes.
2. Pour in the vegetable stock, stir, remove from the heat and allow it to sit covered for 10 minutes. The couscous will then be ready, fluff up gently with a fork.
3. Warm a wok on medium heat, then add cooking oil.
4. Once heated, put in the onions and garlic and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally (around 3-4 minutes)
5. Add in all the peppers and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add in the cayenne pepper, salt and turmeric, then cook the spices for 1 minute.
6. Add the couscous, sugar and Kashmiri chilli, then stir gently. The Kashmiri chilli is optional but it adds a beautiful red colour to the dish.
7. For the final step, squeeze in the juice of the entire lime, this is an important ingredient as it brings the flavours together. Enjoy!