Tag Archives: Cumin

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Cous Cous with Hot Sauce, in memory of BB Cohen

BB Cohen in Oukamaiden, Morocco with Etan Lev, April 9, 2013
BB Cohen in Oukamaiden, Morocco with Etan Lev, April 9, 2013

My Uncle BB Cohen, may his memory be for a blessing, passed away on Sunday, March 30th, 2014. He was 88 years old. I last saw him with my youngest son. We spent two glorious days with him in the Atlas Mountains and ate good food, took good walks, and shared stories and family. We then rejoined my son’s companions on the school trip we were on. I am so grateful for this final time of connection with BB. I have so many good memories and a CD he gave me of his piano playing. You can read more about my visit with him in the piece called Omar and the Bowls that is at the end of my post called It’s a Small World.

What follows here is the basic veggie dish I make to go with about ten other dishes, coming later. There are seven vegetables that go into this dish and you can pick and choose which seven you use. My husband doesn’t eat bell peppers, so I never include them, but make a separate dish with them, Perla’s Peppers, already up on this site. If you like bell peppers, use them in this dish as one of your seven.

The Hot Pepper Sauce can be made all the time and can be used every day of your life, to the delight of your family and friends. It is absolutely essential, in my opinion, for any couscous recipe to add some spice. The actual flavors of this dish are very delicate and sweet, the cinnamon, saffron and coriander being the main flavors. For those who don’t like spice, the dish is perfect without it. For those who do need a little kick, this Hot Pepper Sauce is different from others due to the cumin, VERY Moroccan!

Also, I am not giving instructions about how to prepare the actual couscous grain here. That is a three page process that many others have written about. Perhaps one day. I recommend you do look up how to actually prepare couscous, the grain itself, according to the Master Directions given by Paula Wolfert from her book, Couscous and other good food from Morocco. There is no point in making nasty couscous mush to go with the vegetable dish, but unless you take the time to prepare the grain properly, serve the vegetables with a millet bread or some other grain.

This recipe and the Hot Pepper Sauce are my adaptation from the Sunset Vegetarian Favorites cookbook and also Paula Wolfert’s book mentioned above.

Moroccan Seven Vegetable Cous Cous with Hot Sauce

  1. two large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes or use fresh pumpkin or some other sweet gourd/squash
  2. several handfuls of fresh green beans, cut into small ½ inch pieces (instead of bell peppers for those who are allergic to bell peppers, otherwise use bell peppers!)
  3. two-four large tomatoes, chopped
  4. one or two large cans of garbanzo beans (rinse off the gooey juice) or the equivalent amount of fresh cooked ones

  5. two-three medium size zucchinis chopped into small little wedges

  6. one-two turnips (peeled and cubed into small pieces)
  7. one large parsnip (peeled) or other vegetable of your choice, cut into smallish pieces

¼– ½ cup of olive oil

1–2 large onions finely chopped

2–4 teaspoons fresh ground coriander

2–4 teaspoons cinnamon

juice of one to two lemons

¼– ½ cup water

½ to a full teaspoon of saffron threads

dash or more of salt

Heat the oil and add the onion, coriander & cinnamon, stirring frequently until the onions are soft (5–10 minutes). Stir in the sweet potatoes and mix often for about two minutes. Add the parsnips, turnips, tomatoes, green beans, garbanzo beans, water, lemon juice, saffron threads and some salt. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes. Mix in the zucchini, after the sweet potatoes and other veggies have cooked, they need less time. Cook for another twenty to forty minutes, stirring gently and on low heat. You can let this dish sit for a while before serving in a good covered pot, if you aren’t cooking in a traditional Moroccan Tagine style dish.

Serve over couscous and make sure and use the Hot Pepper Sauce as it makes this dish. This recipe w/out the pepper sauce is very savory, not spicy, the Hot Pepper Sauce adds the heat and you can use as much or as little as you wish. I also like to add fresh feta or some other crumbly salty cheese as it gives the flavors another contrast. Again, I serve the feta on the side. I prefer goat or sheep’s milk feta, but use whichever one you like.

Hot Pepper Sauce

In a small pan on a low flame combine ½ – ¾ cup olive oil, when the oil is warm to hot add 3–5 teaspoons of fresh ground red pepper (cayenne); 2–4 teaspoons fresh ground cumin seed (use the Sabatu/Suribachi to grind your cumin seeds); 2–3 cloves of garlic, pressed (be careful as the oil is hot, you can press the garlic into a small bowl and slip it into the oil if you are worried about oil splattering); ¼ – ½ teaspoon of salt. Cook over low heat, stirring with a chopstick until all of it is well–blended (5 minutes).

Enjoy and Live your life with gusto!!!!!!

View from BB's home in Ouka
View from BB’s home in Ouka, now he flies above these mountains, free as a bird!

Aisha’s Heavenly Curried Green Beans

Fatima Cut Out by Helen Redman from her Moroccan Women series
Fatima Cut Out by Helen Redman from her Moroccan Women series

I just learned that my dear Moslem friend Aisha Aziz died a few days ago, so this recipe is in honor and memory of her. It has been in my cookbook, and deciding which recipes to upload when is one of my current questions. I have been thinking a lot about Aisha, even before knowing she was so close to leaving this world. She has been in my daily prayer practice for some time.

Her home was always open to me and to others. Every year at the end of Ramadan, her and her husband Abdul would invite me to their Eid al-Fitr celebration feast. The food there was extraordinary and I wish I’d gotten more recipes. Aisha always asked me to bring  one or two of her favorite dishes of mine to share. We both had a fierce love of the Divine,  a constant engagement with caring for those in our homes and cooking up feasts for them.

The differences between us were more like the differences of taste and flavor between kinds of peppers or spices. Moslem or Jew, we were and always will be sisters. I learned this particular recipe from my beloved sister Aisha, now of blessed memory, who came over for Shabbat one evening and offered to cook the beans for me. She couldn’t just be a guest, she saw the beans and the ingredients and offered to show me a new recipe. I’m so glad she came over early to hang out with me in my kitchen. It’s pretty much my favorite place to be with people. Once you’ve cooked with someone, they are family!

Life is so short, so please when you have the chance to partake of something delicious, or someone delicious, enjoy! Enjoy their laugh, the texture of their skin, the wrinkles when they smile, the smell of vanilla or cumin they bring with them or the sound of their voice.

Aisha’s Heavenly Curried Beans

  1. at least three or four large handfuls of fresh green beans (You cannot ever get enough of this dish if prepared well and they are great cold the next day as well)
  2. olive oil
  3. curry powder (I use cumin, spicy red pepper or cayenne, coriander, turmeric and salt for my curry powder. Curry is a word that has many translations, it is a combination of spices or dishes and flavors not one specific spice.) If you don’t have your own fresh separate spices, you can use a “curry” powder, but make sure it is fresh and it won’t taste as good as if you mix the spices together in the hot oil in the pan.
  4. 1-2 medium to large tomatoes
  5. lemon

Blanch green beans thoroughly. This means you have a large pot of boiling water and you throw the green beans in the water for about three to five minutes. Remove them either with a slotted spoon or strainer and put them in another dish or bowl. In a separate frying pan heat some olive oil (not a tiny drop but a goodly amount so that the spices mix well and you will have enough oil and spices to coat the green beans. Add the spices or your curry powder and blend together while warm. As stated above, I create my own curry mix with fresh ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and a dash of cayenne. I combine these in the oil as it is warming and add the salt as well. I adjust with more of one or another of these five basic ingredients. I prefer to grind my cumin in a Suribachi, which is a rough and large grooved mortar and pestle and is an absolute essential in my kitchen. The flavor is so much fresher when you grind your own spices and really makes a difference, the same can be said for the coriander seeds (but they take more work, so even I use the already powdered kind sometimes.) Please see the Lesser but Still Important Commandments from The Ten Commandments (and a few more) of Nicole’s Kitchen for more instructions on herbs and spices.

Add the blanched green beans to the olive oil and curry powder. Sauté for 5–10 minutes. Add sliced tomato wedges and sauté for another 5–10 minutes. The tomato will break down and the green beans will be very soft. You can add more curry powder or salt to taste and a squeeze of lemon near the end.

I can’t even eat them any other way now. Do use good salt, see Let’s Talk Salt, for more details.