This wonderfully comforting couscous is based on a dish Sami’s mother cooked for him when he was a child. All we did was add a crust, similar to Iranian tadik, which is a famous rice dish cooked in such a way that a crispy crust forms at the bottom of the pot; this crunchy bit is everybody’s favourite. Good-quality stock is important here. Serve with grilled fish skewers with hawayej and parsley; turkey and courgette burgers with spring onion and cumin; or just with salad as a light vegetarian meal.
All we did was add a crust, similar to Iranian tadik, which is a famous rice dish cooked in such a way that a crispy crust forms at the bottom of the pot; this crunchy bit is everybody’s favourite.
- 45 ml olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped (160g in total)
- 3 tsp tomato purée
- ½ tsp sugar
- salt and black pepper
- 2 very ripe tomatoes, cut into 5mm dice (320g in total)
- 150 g couscous
- 220 ml boiling chicken or vegetable stock
- 40 g unsalted butter
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
- Pour 2 tbsp of the olive oil into a non-stick pan, about 22 cm in diameter, and put over a medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until it has softened but not coloured. Stir in the tomato purée and sugar and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, ½ tsp salt and some black pepper and cook for 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put the couscous in a shallow bowl, pour over the boiling stock and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 10 minutes, then remove the cover and fluff up the couscous with a fork. Add the tomato sauce and stir well.
- Wipe your pan clean and heat up the butter and remaining olive oil over a medium heat.
- When the butter has melted, spoon the couscous into the pan and use the back of the spoon to gently pat it down so it’s all packed in snugly. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to its lowest setting and allow the couscous to steam for 10–12 minutes, until you can see a light brown colour around the edges. Use a palette or other knife to help you peer between the edge of the couscous and the side of the pan - you want a really crisp edge all over the base and sides.
- Place a large plate on top of the pan and quickly turn the couscous on to the plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, with photographs by Jonathan Lovekin. Published by Ebury Press.