I love eating good food (who doesn’t?!). I love spicy food too and although I believe I may be secretly addicted to chillies, this particular recipe has none. As much time as I seem to spend in the kitchen preparing meals, treats, cakes, breads and so on, I have to confess that I am also a lazy cook. I don’t like fuss, I don’t like dirty dishes, bowls or pots that will require additional labour from me after I have eaten and want to relax and I NEVER follow a recipe!! I always improvise, add extra, cut out or substitute and fortunately I have not had too many disasters.
This recipe is modest with it’s ingredient amounts, they are probably suitable for most, I use a lot more of the spices than I say but it may not be to everyone’s palette.
This recipe is great for those of you who also like spicy food but without the burn. It is so versatile you can add quite a variety of ingredients to it dependent upon what you may or may not have in your fridge or pantry at any given time: I have replaced the chickpeas with mushrooms and/or cooked, browned and cubed chicken. In place of the asafoetida I have used a crushed clove of garlic which could just as easily be replaced with finely chopped onion. Always remember, cooking is not rocket science and in this instance you can give or take quite easily with little likelihood of disaster.
AND, best of all, it takes a bare minimum of time to prepare and you have a tasty delicious warm meal that is also extremely healthy.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know how Moroccan this really is but it sounds exotic doesn’t it? Given the fantastic mix of cultures on the African continent from North to South, East to West and I include India and the Middle East in this, it is without doubt right at home here in Africa.
You will need the following ingredients:
3 tablespoons of margarine or butter (about 125g)
2ml asafoetida (this is entirely optional, but I love its warm spicy flavour)
3ml ground cumin (jeera)
3ml ground coriander (dhanya)
1 star anise
1 small stick cinnamon
1 cup OR 1 410g tin of cooked drained chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
300ml (I use about 1 1/4 cup) couscous
500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock
1 small bunch chives chopped
Let us start cooking:
Have the two cups of boiling vegetable stock in a pourable container to one side before you start (the cube or powdered kind is fine too, follow manufacturer instructions, chicken stock is also fine).
Melt the margarine/butter in a medium pot over medium heat, add all the spices and raise the temperature of the pot or pan enough to let this mixture bubble and simmer.
Be very careful not to burn it, you will know it is sufficiently done when you can smell the warm aroma of the spices. This should not take much more than a minute or two, stir it constantly. When done remove from heat and reduce the heat to medium.
Find your chickpeas (I am replaying my own chaotic kitchen planning here). Place the pot back on the heat and stir in the chickpeas, coat them well with the mixture and stir all the time until they are heated through, about 2 or 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and pour in the couscous, stir this into the mixture too until the couscous it coated with the spice mixture, you can “cook” (I put it in inverted commas because you are really just heating it over the hot plate again) for a minute or 3.
Remove from heat again, turn the plate off, you won’t be needing it any longer.
Pour the two cups of vegetable stock into the pot over all the ingredients and put the lid on and let it stand for 5 to 6 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.
Fluff it up with a fork (probably a good time to pull out the stick cinnamon and start anise too, but not critical, just warn your diners). I sometimes add a tablespoon or two of olive oil here, but it is just something I do because I like olive oil, almost as much as I do chillies.
Put into individual bowls, sprinkle with fresh chopped chives (parsley or even fresh chopped coriander is also fine) and serve.
This recipe should serve 6-8 portions. In my house, where legs seem hollow and bowls always empty, we get about 4 large servings, enough to satiate teen hunger.