ON THE PLATE: One-pot wonder is no balls up
Don’t you just love a one-pot wonder? Recipes often lay claim to this, but here, dear readers, is my definite one-pot plus one-bowl recipe to reduce the washing up and warm you and yours with a tasty, hearty meal for a simple supper.
Last year I almost got through my shortlist of one-pot wonders; dishes that I always love to prepare and eat during the cooler winter months. I could tick off the lemony chicken drumsticks, rogan josh, beef strips in tomato cream (my #1 favourite) and various curries.
I didn’t get around to making lamb shanks, and so they will definitely be on the menu in coming weeks.
This hearty meal features moghrabieh – the cousin of couscous, which is a staple of North African cuisine. Couscous may be served with milk as porridge, with a dressing as a salad, or sweetened and mixed with fruits for dessert.
Packaged pre-cooked ‘instant’ couscous is readily available in supermarkets. I find the best way to prepare it is to put about one cup of couscous in a bowl, drizzle a little olive oil over it and rub the oil through the grains with your fingers. Pour in sufficient cold water to cover to a depth of about 1cm over the couscous. Allow the grains to absorb the water (approximately 15 minutes) then add a small knob of blue cheese, stir through, and heat the couscous in a microwave oven to serve with a spicy vegetable medley or lamb dishes.
The name couscous also refers to the famous Maghreb dish in which semolina or cracked wheat is steamed in the perforated top part of a special pot called a couscoussière, while chunks of meat (usually lamb or chicken), various vegetables, spices, chickpeas and raisins simmer in the bottom part. In lieu of a couscoussière, a colander set over a large pot of water will do. The cooked semolina is heaped onto a platter, with the meats and vegetables placed on top.
All diners use chunks of bread to scoop the couscous from this central platter.
Couscous varies from country to country — Moroccans include saffron, Algerians like to add tomatoes and Tunisians spice theirs up with the hot, pepper-based harissa sauce.
So back to the moghrabieh, which is a larger ball of deliciousness and requires more cooking than couscous. It can be steamed in a colander but must be soaked first for 30 minutes. Alternatively, boil it for approximately 25 minutes.
Once cooked, drain and douse with olive oil.
Middle Eastern spices such as zaatar, diced tomato, lemon juice and fresh herbs make a colourful salad. It’s great combined with grilled wedges of pumpkin, some toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta or haloumi cheese. As a side dish to spiced, barbequed or roasted lamb. Simply sauté onions and garlic, add par-boiled moghrabieh and simmer in vegetable stock. When most of the liquid is absorbed, stir through a little butter, chopped coriander, mint and lemon zest. If you are making a ‘casserole’ type dish, the moghrabieh can be added to thicken and absorb the juices, much like you would small shaped pasta or rice.
And again, back to the guaranteed one-pot wonder.
The recipe that follows can be made in one pot using one bowl and is truly delicious. I am trying to ‘do as I say’ and am experimenting with at least one new recipe per week… this one is definitely a keeper. I hasten to add I was spurred on to try this recipe as I’d been gifted some delicious homegrown beetroot, and any recipe that includes cumin causes stars in my eyes.