Today I have a friend and guest blogger, Denise from Quickies on the Dinner Table in the house. Although I met Denise on the World Wide Web, she has since become more than just a blogger friend. During my last visit to Singapore, I actually met up with Denise and we shared a fun afternoon together chatting, eating, and shopping. You can read about my visit and our meeting in the post Taste of Singapore. During my short stay there, I also met up with the lovely Ann of Anncoo Journal. It was a fun trip.
Denise needs no introduction as I know many of you enjoy her wonderful blog. She is also the author of Quickies, Morning, Noon and Night for which I have an autographed copy. Her recipes are quick and simple, yet delicious and full of flavor. So without much ado, please welcome Denise.
Hello everyone! My name is Denise and I blog at Quickies on the Dinner Table. I’d like to start by congratulating my lovely host and friend Biren, on her sparkling new and beautiful virtual kitchen. I’d like to continue by saying that this post is shamefully overdue and thank you Biren, for your patience with me, indulgence and very gracious invitation.
When Biren first invited me to do this post I was thrilled, but had no idea what to prepare. If you’re a regular reader of Roti n Rice, I won’t need to tell you how talented and versatile a blogger Biren is. I don’t think there is anything she cannot cook or bake. I know for a fact that her personal kitchen philosophy is “cook only what you will eat” and that she is an absolute perfectionist. I would very willingly wager that every single recipe here is truly delicious or she would not have posted it.
So, it truly is an honour to be invited by a cook of her calibre and I hope that my offering today will not disappoint. It’s a very simple recipe, in keeping with my personal philosophy of quick and easy but delicious food that is good for you.
You’ve probably noticed that pumpkins are popping up everywhere as autumn closes in, so, why fight something that comes to you on a silver platter? Living in Southeast Asia, as I do, you can bet that I sometimes get very tired of eating rice. When that happens, I’ll often reach for my box of cous cous as it’s incredibly quick and easy to prepare but is such a fabulous vehicle for almost any kind of flavour profile you want to imprint on it.
In Asia, there is an abundance of both sweet and savoury dishes that showcase our much loved pumpkin. I’ve been told however, that in the West, pumpkin is destined to end up on the dessert trolley, with perhaps only vegetarians fully exploiting its potential as a truly versatile food.
I’ve been on a pumpkin bender of late, and why wouldn’t I be, when it’s such a flavourful, satisfying and nutritious vegetable, er, fruit, er vegetable. See what I mean? Pumpkin is loaded with fibre, beta carotene, potassium and magnesium (source: Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Balch & Balch) and really should be a part of most diets. With that in mind, I have for you today, a vegan dish that combines cous cous and pumpkin, with a nod to North Africa, or more specifically, the Maghreb.
The countries of the Maghreb, in particular, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, have long fascinated me. It’s been noted by many lucky enough to have travelled there, that everything seems magnified; the colours, the scents, the sounds. The sky is bluer, sharper, the sun is brighter and fiercer, baking the earth to a parched and crackled sienna and fading the rampant, vibrantly painted walls to a soft and dusty patina of hastened age. Many a daydream has been spent deliberating over the almost impossible beauty of such a visually stunning palate.
It’s nearly too much beauty to bear, and I long to see it all for myself one day. Until I make it there, I will have to be content with meals that echo the pulsing colours and bewitching aromas and flavours of that wondrously enigmatic land. Sad for me, but what a glorious excuse to stir up a tempest of taste in the kitchen
Pumpkin Cous Cous Recipe
Prep 20 mins Cook 15 mins Serves 4
3 – 4 Tbsp light vegetable oil
1 level tsp cumin seeds
1 medium onion, peel and slice thinly
2 large cloves garlic, peel and chop
1 ½ level tsp coriander powder
1 level tsp dried ground ginger
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
¼ of a cantaloupe-sized pumpkin, peel thickly and cut into dice as shown in pictures above
300 ml (1 ½ cups) very hot water
2 level tsp sea salt (or to taste)
200 g (1 ½ cups) fine grain cous cous
As much coriander leaves (cilantro) as you like, to garnish
As much sliced fresh chilli as you like, to garnish
• Heat the oil in a medium sized pot and when moderately hot, add the cumin seeds and stir, ensuring they don’t burn. When they start to pop, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring often to prevent burning.
• When onions are limp, sprinkle over the coriander powder, ground ginger and ground cinnamon. Stir for a minute or two, until fragrant. Add the diced pumpkin and stir until coated with the spice mixture.
• Put lid on and turn down heat to minimum. Allow pumpkin to sweat for 5 minutes. Open lid and stir again. Close lid and sweat another 3 – 5 minutes or until pumpkin is almost tender but still retaining its shape well, with a very slight crunch when you bite into it.
• Pour in the water, add the salt, stir and bring quickly to the boil so pumpkin doesn’t overcook. When liquid boils, turn off heat and immediately pour the cous cous in a steady stream, into the hot liquid. Stir quickly with a light hand, until all the cous cous is well moistened. Quickly cover and leave for 10 minutes.
• Open lid and gently fluff up cous cous with a large fork, taking care not to break the pumpkin. Plate cous cous and garnish with the cilantro and chilli. Eat with spicy North African tajines or meat stews, on its own or as part of a vegetarian meal. Enjoy!
As you all know, it has been a squash and pumpkin fest here in my virtual kitchen. I had to try out this recipe and I followed it to a T. It turned out beautifully. I gave it a squirt of lime juice and a sprinkling of sumac and it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!!! I should have doubled the recipe as the family really enjoyed it. Thank you Denise for a wonderful recipe! You can be sure that I will be making this again and again. Cook it I have, eat it I certainly will!
This is the dish I made using Denise’s recipe.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!