Do you know the song “Baby, it’s cold outside”? I’m guessing you do, but if not, I advise you to leave this site because you are no longer welcome here.
It is one of my favourite songs of all time, because it is so incredibly cheesy and old-school romantic. No “shake your booty” or “talk dirty”, but a flirtatious conversation between two lovers. In this song, the man tries to persuade the woman to stay, as it is way too late and too cold to go outside. His arguments are very persuasive, from the romantic “Listen to the fireplace roar!”, to the creepy “Think of my lifelong sorrow if you caught pneumonia and died”.
However, no matter how persuasive his arguments may be, they are never as convincing as a steaming bowl of couscous. And this is where the following recipes come in. They will persuade even the most reluctant to take of their coats and hats and join you for a heavenly plate of Middle Eastern delight.
Trust me. If you want your lover to stay, put some heart-warming couscous on a tray! (Okay, that was a God-awful rhyme, but you get my point.)
Baby, It’s cold outside!
PS: Contrary to popular opinion this song is NOT a Christmas song. It’s a song about cold weather, there’s a difference.
Fragrant Cod Tagine
This is a wonderfully fragrant and light dish. Succulent cod, warm spices, fresh coriander and last but not last a large dome of steamy couscous to absorb all the yummy broth…
Once your lover has tasted this, he’ll be lying at your feet for all eternity.
- 800gr cod fillets, cut into chuncks
- 2 red peppers, cut into strips
- 250gr spinach, blanched
- 1 fennel, roughly sliced
- 400gr/ 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
- 4cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
- Vegetable stock
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp fennel seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp saffron
- 1 tbsp honey
- Fresh coriander
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot and sauté the onion, garlic, ginger, chili and spices until the spices start to release their heavenly scent.
- Add the peppers and fennel and stir in the honey and can of tomatoes. Use that same can as a measuring cup and add the same amount of vegetable stock to the pan.
- Let it simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce is absolutely fabulous. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Add the blanched spinach and lay the cod chunks on top of the vegetables. Press them carefully in the sauce.
- Cover with the lid and lit it simmer for another 5 minutes until the cod is tender.
- Sprinkle some fresh coriander over the top for additional fragrance and zing.
Wintery Maftoul One-Pot with Brussels Sprouts and Tofu
This may seem like a rather odd combination, but the wintery awesomeness of the Brussels sprouts goes so well with the sticky (almost risotto-like) maftoul. I absolutely adore maftoul (also known as Palestinian couscous), because of its larger grains and robust flavour. If you can’t find maftoul, you can of course use regular couscous, but it won’t create the same soulful comfort.
Should you be questioning the compatibility of Brussels sprouts, raisins and tofu, do not worry. Even my mom looked slightly confused when I put this dish on the table. However, once you’ve tasted this you will no longer doubt that this is indeed a flavour bomb that will simply knock your socks off.
Ingredients (serves 1)
- 200gr Brussels sprouts, cleaned and outer leaves removed
- 100gr tofu, cut into chunks
- 50gr maftoul
- Approx. 100-150ml of vegetable stock
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- ½ chili pepper, finely chopped
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- ½ tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp nigella seeds
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- Pinch of star anise
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Handful of raisins
- Blanche the Brussels sprouts until they are just under cooked. Drain and rinse them with ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Cut them in half and set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and sauté the shallot, ginger, chili, spices and honey until they start to caramelize. Stir in the maftoul and fry for another 2 minutes.
- Cover with vegetable stock and let it simmer until the maftoul has absorbed all the liquid. Taste the maftoul and add some extra stock if the couscous is still too al dente.
- Meanwhile, fry the tofu in a pan until golden brown. Set aside.
- Add the raisins to the maftoul mixture and stir in the Brussels sprouts and fried tofu.
- Finally, sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds on top.
- Eat straight from the pan in front of the tellie. Delish!