The Major detests couscous and declares it to be fluffed cardboard. He has a point: unadorned, without the juices of a nice lamb stew seeping through, it’s about as exciting as pasta without sauce. (Which is exactly what it is.)
Here’s one way to enliven it. You will need:
- 500g couscous
- two large onions
- 1/2 tsp each of cumin, turmeric, ground cinnamon, plus four cloves and six (shelled) cardamom pods
- a generous pinch of salt
- one 450g tin chopped tomatoes
- one 450g tin cooked chickpeas (no need to drain)
- 150g plain (a.k.a. “Greek”) yoghurt
Finely slice and fry the onions in a large pot with a generous splash of vegetable oil. They need to get light brown and crunchy, as though you were making pilao rice, so expect this to take around 10 minutes.
Add the salt and spices, fry for around a minute, before dumping in the tomatoes, chickpeas and yoghurt. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer.
In the meantime, boil the kettle, put the couscous in a bowl, and pour over enough boiled water to cover, which is probably less than would be recommended on the packet. Give it a good stir until the grains start to swell and absorb all the water, then hoik it into the pot with everything else. Turn off the heat, cover, and leave for ten minutes.
The Major ate all the couscous I set before him.