Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spicy Yogurt with Couscous

We all evolve as individuals with time. The way we think, interpret and deal with life changes over a period of time. Some call it maturity, I prefer the term adaptation. We adapt or attempt to adapt to the circumstances, changes, people and the life style. The process of adaptation also extends to the types of food we devour. As a child, I used to shun a whole bunch of dishes, with age- maturity or the need for adaptation; I embrace them with more warmth and affection. This makes me wonder if our taste buds go through some sort of metamorphosis or become more kosher.

I grew up on South Indian cuisine. The daily menu at home was something along the lines of lentils, vegetables and yogurt. I was reluctant to even try anything outside of this comfort zone. Life happened and I landed in the US of A and was bombarded with culinary choices like never before. There was the Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Mongolian and whole platter of ingredients and dishes I never tasted or heard before. 

I ventured on this new found culinary journey with lot of trepidation. I enjoyed the new taste, new culinary perspective, but eventually always wanted to come back to my comfort zone - the food I grew up on. I may enjoy the pasta as much as the burrito but in the end I crave for rice, lentils and yogurt. 

I often try to combine new ingredients with something I grew up on. Yogurt in Indian cuisine is by default on the spicier side, with seasoning and often mixed with rice. The dish may not appeal to everyone; in fact I never liked it as a kid. Over the years, I acquired a taste for this dish. I made this dish with spicy seasoned yogurt substituting rice for couscous.

1.   1 cup of Plain Yogurt
      2 cups of water

Whisk the yogurt and water together.
Add 1/2 tsp of salt- This may vary depending on the tartness of the Yogurt.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon red chili flakes
1 Tablespoon turmeric powder
2 Tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (This can be substituted with dried Mint leaves)

2.  Heat the oil in a sauce pan. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, chili flakes, turmeric and dried fenugreek leaves and let them toast for couple of seconds. It is crucial to add these ingredients to hot oil to get that toasty   smoky flavor.

3.  Add the sizzling seasoning to the whisked yogurt.

4.  Take 1 cup of couscous in a bowl and add 1 cup of water. Microwave for 2 minutes, use a fork to break any lumps and add the couscous to the seasoned yogurt mix.

We always serve this dish with a side of lemon pickle, which complements the tartness of the yogurt and the spicy seasoning. 

The dish has a unique taste, a taste that grows on you. 

This dish can be tweaked by reducing the spice in the seasoning, adding some raisins, or pomegranate seeds instead of the fenugreek leaves, green chili instead of red chili flakes, or adding fresh herbs of your choice. 

Hope this dish inspires you to step out of your culinary comfort zone.