Sunday, May 27, 2007

Culinary Crossover

Tagine and couscous are as native to Morocco as lime pickle and channa masala are to India. What happens when these two come together with nothing but the intention of finishing some of the stuff in the pantry in as authentic (!) a manner as possible? It’s a glorious mess when you discover it’s easier to depend on hazy memories of the recipe rather than spend some time searching for the book on Moroccan cuisine. After all, it’s your only time off in the week, don’t you just have to get on with it, give it a snappy headline and put it on the blog too? And it can't be any worse than Pepper Paneer Pasta, can it, though deconstructing it leads you to cream, cheese and pasta, which is what go into pasta all the time!

I’m sure there’s a tagine with chick peas, though my book seems to have a chicken tagine which called for some slices of pickled lemon, the vinegary kind. And channa masala calls for a souring agent. When time is precious on a Sunday morning which you would rather spend vegetating on the couch than soaking tamarind for extract, and in the absence of an instant one such as amchur/dried mango powder, lime pickle comes in handy. I put things together willy-nilly and the result was a not-very-strange but not-very-traditional gravy.

The lime pickle I used is a traditional Andhra recipe but as haphazard was the operative note, I used three teaspoons of it in the tagine masala - now how’s that for a crossover name? It was hot, naturally, but definitely tamed by the onions, tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste that kept it company.

Here’s the recipe:

Couscous - 1 cup
Channa/chickpeas/garbanzo beans - 1 cup, soaked overnight if you’re using the dry ones
Onions - 3, chopped
Tomatoes - 3, chopped
Green chillies - 2, slit
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Garam masala/Curry powder - 1 tbsp
Cumin seed/Jeera - ½ tsp
Turmeric - ½ tsp
Salt, to taste
Lime pickle - 3 tsp, with pieces
Oil - 2 tsp
Coriander, for garnish

Boil the chickpeas or pressure cook them till soft.

Heat the oil, add the cumin seed.

Now fry the onions till they become transparent.

Add the green chillies, saute.

Now add the ginger-garlic paste. Mix well, fry a while.

Add the turmeric, salt, curry powder and mix really well.

Now add the tomatoes, mix well, cook on simmer, covered, till mushy.

At this stage, the gravy will begin to talk to you. If it needs more water, give it some.

Add the chickpeas and the lime pickle.

Mix well, check the consistency of the gravy and add more water if you want to thin it down. Let it simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Check for taste, turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander.

Bring five cups of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt, add couscous and cook for 7-9 minutes. Drain.

I prefer to serve the couscous and the gravy separately so that whoever’s eating can decide the proportions for themselves.

I'm sending this off to Presto Pasta Nights hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast

I've also joined The Foodie Blog Roll. You can find it in my sidebar, details when you click on it!


  1. sounds totally yum. moroccan preserved lemons add a new dimension to any dish, and the closest i can think of is lemon pickle.

  2. Sra,

    Oh my god, never have I used lemon pickle in cooking let alone in couscous. I call this out of the box thinking !!!

    Good one !!
    in between I like tie cute guy with flute on the cup next to dish, looks so cute ..

  3. What a lovely dish and I think it's the first Indian pasta dish we've seen in the 14 weeks of Presto Pasta Nights. Thanks so much for joining in the fun and I hope to see you often.

    Love your blog!

  4. A crossover indeed!!!! Lovely combo of flavours.....

  5. I am so happy that you liked the Jeera Aloo Sra.
    This couscous recipe looks tasty and surely not a glorious mess :)
    Liked it, the gravy will start talking to you :))Aren't the chick peas protesting for making them Morrocan :)))

  6. Bee, the pickle gave it a certain flavour - I've never tasted the original, though!
    Sreelu, I'm thrilled - first time someone's called me out-of-the-box! You must be familiar with Bapu-Ramana, Sreelu, the guy on the cup is their character, Budugu!
    Ruth, thank you. I participated once earlier!
    Coffee, thank you!
    Arch, I called it glorious because it was edible. No, they didn't protest - they liked the foreign trip, I think.
    Thank you, Viji. Read a few of your old posts today.

  7. Yum! If I could only get my fork through the screen. ;-)


  8. Good entry for Pasta night sra,lemon pickle rocks,eh?:))
    We are having leisurely weekend ,3 days off for us!

  9. That's a great crossover...

  10. You are one heck of a creative cook.

  11. You are on a international food roll. I love such innovations and you should file a patent or something before people go cooking your recipes

  12. Paz, LOL!
    Asha, you lucky bum! Even a 2-day weekend is a near impossibility for me!
    Sunita, thanks.
    Cynthia, thanks. Wish I can keep it up - the lemon pickle was a stray brainwave, really!
    Sandeepa, the way plagiarism's going, I'd be glad for an acknowledgement, LOL.

  13. I love these one pot meals. I just got chickpeas from the store, will have to try this now. delicious, delicious...

  14. All togeather this seems to be an intresting dish.Thanks for sharing this:-)

  15. Sounds very inventive! I am of course a huge fan of using what you already have so I love the idea of this recipe! You go!

  16. very nice dish SRA, thanks for sharing.

  17. Mandira, let me know if you liked it.
    Meena, my pleasure.
    Jenndz, I can go through my pantry and still not use up everything in years - sigh!
    Thanks, Jyothi

  18. wonder combo...very creative...does look nice...thanks for sharing

  19. that is for sure a mishmash! wonder how it tastes. never made couscous till now.

  20. lemon pickle in a recipe is novel.couscous and tagine are yummy and ur twist to it is totally original.way to go.

  21. Thank you, Dilipji!
    Sharmi, couscous is bland by itself, it absorbs the gravy and the experience lies in the texture.
    Thank you, Mallugirl!

  22. Thats very creative sra... couscous,picle and channa a good combo..

  23. That looks and sounds so good. I like how it is vegan too. I will make this soon. Thanks for the great idea :)

  24. Hi Lena, thank you. Just tried to visit your blog but couldn't get in.