Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Kiss My Couscous

It has been a long day. Woke up way to early, Great Grandma went to the hospital, painted a picture for my sister, couldn't find half of my t-shirts. Stared at The Kite Runner for a few minutes. It has been an off day. But however, i took the edge off with some yummy food. Today is the first day of my 80 days of culinary "travel", and the first country is Algeria! I studied up a bit on the flavors and food of this land, and found it to be promising. [most food is (: ]

Algeria; a country comfortably nestled between The Mediterranean Sea and The Sahara deserted. Steep mountains, rolling valleys, majestic plateaus; one of the biggest countries in Africa. The Fertile Northern coastline is home to olive, fig, agave, date and other palm trees. Salt Marshes are found on top of the plateaus in the central area, ad the Sahara stretches across the South. Algeria is known for its wheat cultivation, the early Berber tribesmen were the first to make couscous,the national dish, which is usually served warm with lamb or beef on top with something like tomatoes, chickpeas and carrots.

Algeria is a melting pot of Berber, Turkish, French, and Arab flavors, ginger, saffron, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, and mint are pantry staples in the Algerian kitchen. Dates, raisins, and other dry fruits are also extremely popular in their cuisine. Lamb is also one of the most popular meats in Algeria, a traditional way of preparing it, Mechoui, is when they roast lamd on an outdoor spit and season it with herb butter so the outside is nice a crispy, while the inside remains moist and succulent.
[Picture Credit to, ]

No meal is complete here without bread [My kind of country!!!], usually a long french baguette style loaf, or sometimes flat wheat bread.

They also enjoy mint tea, I was a happy camper when i found this out, because quite frankly, i really like tea. I Have a bazillion tea cups, an array of different teas, and a fucking tea pot in the shape of Henry The VIII's head. However, that's a different story for another post.

Since it's the national dish, i decided to make couscous! I've never made couscous before, i think i had it once before tonight at my cousins down in Florida a few years back, but my palate doesn't seem to specifically recall this temptress. YAY FOR ADVENTURE AND LEARNING HOW TO MAKE NEW THINGS. Thankfully, this is super easy to make! Basically you just boil water, dump in the pasta [yes its pasta, not a grain,] and let it sit. Simple enough.Hahaha wrong.

My first batch came out a little to dry; i called for a redo. [What? I'm a perfectionist when it comes to culinary.] Not to mention me trying to find couscous in Food Lion, is like trying to find a needle in a fuck stack. Pardon my err French [picked that phrase from some movie i watched a few weeks ago tehehe] I tried asking someone and the two workers in the pasta isle with me didn't even know what it was. I need a map. Mama ended up having to find it for me on her way back from work, i thanked her for being such a Pro.

So after i got all the ingredients together: plain couscous, raisins, fresh mint, oil, salt, cumin, I got to cooking!
Spiced Mint Raisin Couscous:
-1 1/4 Cup water
-1 tsp cumin, saffron, turmeric, or cardamon [pick your poison, but only use one]
-1 cup couscous
-1/4 cup raisins
-1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
-2-3 tbs fresh mint, chopped

In a small pot, bring the water to just a gentle boil and remove from heat. Add in the 1tsp of the spice of your choice, allow to steep for 10 mins. Bring the infused water back to a boil, remove from heat yet again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and let it rest for however long the box tells you too, or if you're using actually couscous and not couscous mix boxed crap, let sit for 15 to 30 minutes until desired texture is reached. Fluff with a fork. Serve with fresh mint.

After tasting this, I can now say I'm a fan of couscous. Mama also liked it, she loved the flavor combo, but unlike me she's been a fan of the pasta for a long time.

When i took my first spoonful, i taste the coolness of the mint co-exist with the spice of the cumin, while sweetness burst-ed from the swollen raisins. I took a fancy to the texture of the dish immediately. Also the taste of it makes me think of something I've had before that isn't it and now IT'S REALLY FREGGIN BUGGING ME. I'll quit geeking out and learn to deal, because I'll probably figure it out when im trying to sleep.

I hope you enjoyed the flavors of Algeria, i did, minus the geeking out part. Adios!

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