When the days turn into an endless torture, when the sun is hitting beyond crazy and when you turn into a steaming dumpling, that’s when you know you didn’t escape the Indian summer heat! So what does one do in this case, besides complaining endlessly that it is hot and draining? You help yourself with digestible food treats, right? What would be better then something cooling for your stomach but also something nutritious so that you still have enough energy to master your busy days. That’s when salads proof to be useful and a blessing. Anyway, I noticed that I hadn’t posted my couscous paneer salad with lemon dressing so this is the right time for a informal food introduction.
I grew up eating couscous and I think so for a while I was the only one in primary school who did so. Couscous is a traditional north African/Mediterranean side dish and since some of the former french colonies were situated in north Africa, the humble couscous dish found a place in the french foodie hearts. Couscous, small semolina granules, can be counted as a very popular side dish in France and in the past 20 years it has gained favor amongst the rest of the world.
There are two types of couscous, the north African fine granules and the way larger Israeli Couscous granules. I have never tasted or tried to cook with the Israeli version since it’s not that common in Europe so I can’t tell you anything about this one. In India you can get hold of the fine north African couscous variation. However it’s a bit over prized in India, which I feel shouldn’t be the case since Couscous is just durum semolina rolled into granules.
If Couscous picks up in popularity in India, as it did in other countries in the past decade and I am predicting just that, then it will eventually be produced in the Indian subcontinent, resulting in a decrease of price. Many non traditional Indian food items have gone through a similar process, so it’s just a matter of time and eventually India will stop secluding itself. We can see this already, Indians are eager to learn new things, to try and take the plunge and live a bit more.
Couscous is versatile and nutritious. I often compare it to rice. Just imagine the countless rice dish variations in this world, the same can be done with couscous. So that means, it’s just not only a plain boring side dish, no, it can also be turned into exciting stand alone dishes and also sweet flavorful desserts.
Today I am just going to do this by introducing you to a new concept of using commonly available Indian ingredients with couscous. Obviously the recipe better be killer or I wouldn’t take the trouble clicking nice pictures to tempt you. It’s a quick and easy recipe perfect during long hot summer days. The Couscous Paneer Salad with lemon dressing can be cooled in the fridge before you indulge it, at least that’s what i do these days.
During the not so humid period in Goa I tend to buy couscous in the stores here. During the monsoon I will only buy it from a store here which has an Air Cooling system, simply because I have been disappointed by some couscous packages in the past. You see, couscous can get quickly moldy if it isn’t stored properly and my experience is that some shops don’t bother to refund your whole 450 INR, except Orchard stores in Goa (not Oxford!). Luckily you can always buy it online too via Zanzaar for example. Also some brands have a properly vacuum sealed packaging which may reduce the mold danger.
I feel if you can afford Couscous then go for it. It’s a great change from our common rice and bread diet and a diet with various food ingredients can only benefit your health in the long run. Also couscous tastes great and you can use it in so many ways and I will certainly post more couscous recipes here in the future.
- 2 medium sized Garlic pods chopped
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil (1+1 Tablespoon)
- 1 green Chilli chopped
- 300 milliliter Water
- 1 Lime
- pinch Salt
- pinch Pepper
- 100 grams Couscous
- 1 small Tomato (50 grams)
- 1 small Cucumber (50 grams)
- 60 grams Paneer
- Coriander to garnish
- juice of one lime
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- pinch Salt
- pinch Pepper
- Add the chopped garlic and chili together with 1 tablespoon olive oil to a pot and stir fry for a minute or two. Squeeze out the juice form your lime and keep the juice aside for later use. Add the water, lime halves, salt and pepper to the pot and bring to a boil.
- Take the pot from the heat and add the couscous. Stir a bit, cover and let sit for 10 minutes at least. The couscous will soak up the water.
- Rinse and cut your tomato and cucumber into small cubes. Keep aside.
- Cut your paneer into small cubes too. Heat up a non stick frying pan with the remaining one tablespoon olive oil and fry your paneer golden on the sides.
- Once your couscous has completely soaked up the water, pick out and discard the lime halves and fluff the couscous with a fork.
- Add the tomato, cucumber and paneer to the couscous and mix well. Garnish with fresh coriander.
- For the dressing mix all ingredients well and cover the salad with it.
- Best served cooled.