Ever since I started publishing recipes, I've been gaining experience and doing surveys. Quite private surveys, based only on people I get in touch with, in person or online. With the exception of 2020, when personal contacts began to be rarer than summer holidays in solitude. New normal.
Over time, some ingredients have created a separate category and, although they go into my cooking and therefore also appear in my recipes, the reactions to them are, as they call them, mixed. Couscous is an ideal example.
I always have it at home, because it is a versatile, time-saving, light and tasty piece in any mosaic. Couscous shows perfect adaptability: it absorbs the taste of other ingredients and takes the final recipe a bit further. This is why I like to experiment with it. Couscous is pure magic!
After discussions in bookstores and below my recipes or photographs, however, the already mentioned contradiction appears. For a large part of people, couscous is the base of a diet or at least a frequent part of it, but, to many of them, it is absolutely unknown. Bulgur, couscous, turmeric, tahini are just some of the many ingredients for which I most often hear or read the question "What is it?".
I admit that I can no longer remember when and where I first discovered and used an ingredient with which I did not grow up with, but I’ve been still using it for years. I am all the happier if someone discovers something new because they are inspired by my recipes. For others it can still be just a repetition of what they already know.
But why am I even thinking about it? On the opposite camp, from time to time, there is a trending claim that these "imported" ideas kill traditional cuisine. Our grandmothers have never heard of couscous. True. Until some decades ago, some grannies had never come across lemons, and their ancestors viewed potatoes as an "imported American" invention. And I can go on and on counting what was better but disappeared, what was not here and thank God it arrived… I'm just upset that the debate concerning food and inspirations can't work that way. Dividing ingredients or our own knowledge into new and old, only limits us.
Couscous is not a predator that has come to exterminate traditional “buchty” (steamed buns), mother's meat loaves or destroy yeast baking. It's just another ingredient that will inspire you on how to make your menu more varied, will make you try to do something differently and will be used in a creative fit and be pushed a little further.
That's why I moved couscous to the realm of desserts without remorse. I wanted to awaken the memory of a bit more warmer oriental flavors and combinations. And the couscous cake was born. It was originally a colored pile on a salad plate. But since the design sells the food, not only for the sake of the visual aspect of it, I finally formed it into a cake and, for the sake of aesthetics, I poured chocolate over it. It was not necessary. But I wanted to reach an even greater extreme, given that the first reaction to the final picture with a hashtag #couscous would really be “Seriously?”.
So again, there is a reason to ask WHAT IS IT?
coconut milk 500ml
cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon
dried figs 120g
maple syrup 3tbsp
white chocolate 180g
Combine the honey with the cinnamon, then dissolve it in coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Add finely chopped raisins with figs, couscous, remove from heat, cover with a lid and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Cut the almonds and pistachios into irregular pieces, save 2 tbspns from the pistachios to use separately in the end. Roast the nuts for 5-6 minutes in a pan with a non-stick surface. Lightly stir the "drunk" couscous with a fork to give it some air and volume. Add the roasted nuts to the pot, add the maple syrup and mix everything thoroughly.
Press the prepared mixture into a baking dish (diameter 24 cm) lined with baking paper. Level the surface and cover with foil to maintain moisture. After cooling, put the cake in the refrigerator for at least another hour to set.
Take the chilled cake out of the form, place onto a plate, cover with melted chocolate and sprinkle with pistachios.
Do it your way: Couscous tastes great already after soaking in the pot, you can serve it on a tray with a salad spoon or shape the mixture into smaller portions, bowls or cups. Decorate the surface with lemon glaze, peanut butter, jam, or just sprinkle with cinnamon or skip this step altogether.
This is how I did it: VIDEORECIPE (turn on subtitles pls):