Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Orange-fragranced couscous

Couscous is the New York of starchy meal bulkers: so good they named it twice. Before the British public became all up to date on their international foods, if you asked the man in the street what it was, he might have thought couscous was some horrendous tropical disease, up there with dengue, ebola or gonorrhoea contracted from a kathoey you picked up in a bar in Pattaya. Now, of course, it's common knowledge that it's the stuff that's a bit like rice that they have in Morocco. It's the height of sophistication, Mockney wanker Jamie Oliver uses it because it's "pukka" (whatever the fuck that means). It's made of wheat. If you were a foodie wanker, in fact, you could say couscous was deconstructed pasta or pasta not yet constructed. It's so fucking exotic! It's semolina made from durum wheat. Hang on a minute, but isn't semolina that gruel-like stuff they used to serve for dessert in school dinners in that dazzlingly day-glo pink sauce? Oh, yeah. So it is. Shows you, repackage any old bollocks and you can make a fortune.

Anyway, that reminds me of a joke. What is the Pink Panther's favourite type of wheat? Durum, Durum, Durum-Durum-Durum-Durum. OK, that works better if you say it out loud and you know this tune


1 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
5 cherry tomatoes (or about 100g regular sized), skinned and chopped
handful of green olives, sliced
pinch of saffron
1 mug of dry couscous (see instructions, but should be about 125g for two people)
1 mug of boiling water

In a shallow pan, heat the oil and fry up the onion and garlic on a medium to low heat until soft.

Add the celery and pepper and continue to fry for another couple of minutes until they are also soft.

For the saffron and orange zest, put it in a cup and add about a tablespoon of boiling water and let it steep for a couple of minutes.

Add this to the pan along with salt and pepper to taste.

Throw in the chopped olives, tomatoes and pour in the couscous.

Stir well so all the grains of couscous get a good coating of oil. Pour this mixture into an oven or microwave-proof dish.

Next add the boiling water and orange juice. The total volume you add needs to be the same as the volume of the couscous added, so add the orange juice to a cup then makeup the volume with the boiling water.

Mix well, cover as tightly as possible and put in an oven for 5-10 minutes if you happen to have something in it (such as the previously posted recipe of lamb tagine) or else, stick it in the microwave for about a minute then leave to stand for another two or three.

This dish is a great accompaniment to Moroccan food such as my lamb tagine, but it can work as a meal in its own right, especially if you add a few more vegetables. Also, it's got no meat in it

There's none of this "boiling for a few minutes" bollocks with your couscous. Oh no. Just add boiling water, let it soak in and it's pretty much cooked.

I said it above and I'll say it again. It's made of wheat. There's a big, faddy movement against wheat in some circles, especially in the fitness business. Wheat is often portrayed as the most evil foodstuff in the larder, responsible for many of the dietary ills of modern life. Probably the most vocal of these critics are those selling the Paleolithic Diet. Proponents of the Paleo diet believe that we should be eating only food that cave-people ate before the dawn of organised agriculture because it is is what we evolved to eat. This is the cuisine of Luddites. These people really are drawing the fun out of food. They are the Jimmy Savile presenting a really good episode of Top of the Pops 2 of the food world. No pasta, no couscous, no bread, no beer and absolutely no scientific basis for the whole Paleo dietary movement. If, however, you do want to make a Paleo version of this dish, simply substitute the couscous for shredded sabretooth tiger.

Sorry for no pictures in this recipe. I shall take some next time I do this recipe and post them as an update.

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