It started with the spotting of whole wheat pearl couscous in the aisles of Wegmans, the familiar packaging of Bob’s Red Mill grains beckoning me. I have never cooked with pearl couscous before, but the idea of turning these beautiful grains into a healthy lunch sounded good. I looked up a few recipes that used regular couscous and decided to throw together things in my fridge and pantry to create this wonderful, deeply satisfying salad.
1 cup whole wheat pearl couscous
1 tsp salt
1.5 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
14 cherry tomatoes
8-10 nuts of your choice (I used leftover macademia nuts)
2 tbps raisins or craisins (I used craisins)
2 tsps ras el hanout (a north African spice mix available on Amazon)
2 green chilis finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Roast the couscous in a pan for 10 minutes till light brown and set aside.
Bring 1.5 cups of water to a boil, add the roasted couscous and salt and cook over a low flame till the couscous is cooked and the water has evaporated. This took me about 12 minutes.
Transfer the couscous to a large bowl.
Heat 2 tbsps of oil in the pan that you used to cook the couscous, add the chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn brown. Add the cherry tomatoes, nuts, raisins and ras el hanout and toss till the tomatoes are coated with the spice.
Turn off the heat and toss the onion mix into the cooked couscous.
Now add the chilies, cilantro, parsley and lemon juice. Give the contents another toss and serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: If your tolerance for spices is low, cut back the ras el hanout to one tsp and use one chili instead.
Not too long ago, I tried to make a decadent Rasmalai cake that was created by the very talented Melissa Clark. It was a work of labor and love. More recently, looking at the aisles of Rosogolla in the Indian store sparked an interesting thought. What would happen if I somehow weaved store brought Rosogollas into a tres leches style cake batter with some rasmalai flavors infused in?
That is the experiment that went down in my kitchen tonight. I started with making a tres leches cake base, swapping in cardamom for the vanilla. When the cake batter was ready, I folded in sliced Rosogollas (I squeezed out their sugar syrup first), baked the cake and gave the final touch – a soak in a tres leches (three milks) concoction flavored with saffron, cardamom and crushed pistachios.
My parents were over the moon happy, their neighbors delighted with this unexpected gift and me? I was just beaming because yet another idea came to life beautifully! Here’s how this cake came together.
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tsps cardamom
12 small store bought Rosogollas (I bought a can of Bikaner mini Rosogollas)
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 can condensed milk
4 strands of saffron, crushed
1/8 cup shelled pistachios, toasted and crushed
1/2 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp ghee or butter for prepping pan
1 tbsp flour for prepping pan
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Brush a 9×13 inch pan with one tbsp of ghee or butter and dust it with the tbsp of flour.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and cardamom (two tsps) in a bowl.
3. Slice the Rosogollas in half, gently squeeze out the sugar syrup and set it aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together until nice and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat till blended.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, and mix till the ingredients are blended.
5. Fold in the Rosogolla slices into the cake batter.
6. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or till the top of the cake is light brown and a cake tester comes out clean.
7. Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes all over the cake with a wooden skewer or toothpick and set aside to cool.
8. Prepare the tres leches mixture by mixing the half and half, 2% milk, condensed milk, saffron, pistachios, and 1/2 tsp cardamom in a bowl.
9. Pour the tres leches mixture over the cake.
Enjoy every milk infused crumb and be transported to flavor nirvana!
I saw three farm fresh peaches call my name. I turned around and there was a hot round chili and a piece of ginger that did not want to be left behind. So I rounded them up with a few spices and out emerged this chutney with a perfect amalgamation of flavors – sweet, tart, spicy. I had this immediately as a side dish with rotis and vegetables, but tomorrow, this will be the spread on toast that will form the base for a slightly runny egg.
3 large peaches, skin and pit removed and cut into medium sized pieces
1 jalapeño, round chili or green chili, finely chopped
½ inch piece of ginger finely chopped
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 dried red chili
1 tsp urad dal or peanuts
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1.Heat the oil.
2. Add the mustard seeds, red chili, urad dal or peanuts. When the mustard seeds stop crackling, add the curry leaves, ginger and green chilies. Sauté for a minute.
3. Now add the chopped peaches, salt and turmeric powder. Cook for five to six minutes uncovered, smashing the peaches with a wooden spoon so they are blended with the spices.