Friday, January 7, 2011

Curried Couscous

When my husband was younger, he was an incredibly picky eater. And I mean picky. The man didn't even like pizza until after he was in college. Really?! Who doesn't like pizza?

Fast forward a couple years and now he'll try pretty much anything that is put in front of him, which works out quite well with my love of trying new things. I'm pretty sure the idea of curried anything, much less, curried couscous would have caused him a lot of angst back in the day.

Not anymore! Curried anything makes him happy.

Couscous is one of those sides that I've made a couple times since we've been married, but I don't find it real exciting by itself. I think we've prepared it with chicken stock and parsley, and it was okay, but not something that I found myself thinking about much past that meal.

A couple days ago I found myself perusing Ina Garten's first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and re-discovered several recipes that I had never made, but wanted to. This curried couscous was one of those re-finds. If anyone could spruce up couscous, Ina could.

Spruce up, she did. She first flavored the couscous with a savory curry sauce that is instantly absorbed by the couscous, then added in all sorts of yummy extras: dried cranberries (craisins), almonds, grated carrots, scallions, red onion and parsley.

Adios, boring couscous. This was by far the best couscous I've tried. My husband and I both got seconds and I'm not sad about having leftovers. I'd call that a success! Now I wouldn't go so far as to say that couscous will be my go-to side dish from here on out, but it is one that I will definitely make again and wouldn't think twice about making for friends.

If you've been wanting to try couscous, this is a great recipe to get you started. Or, if you're like me and just kinda find it boring, this recipe will help change your mind.

Here's what I did:

Prep your couscous mix-ins: 1/2 c. peeled and grated carrot, 1/2 c. coarsely chopped craisins (Ina used currants, but I ran out! Craisins worked great), 1/2 c. minced flat-leaf parsley (measured before chopping it), two thinly sliced scallions, 1/4 c. finely chopped red onion, 1/4 c. toasted and sliced almonds.

The sauce included 1/4 c. of both plain yogurt and olive oil, some curry powder, turmeric, salt, pepper, and white wine vinegar. Turns out, I have balsamic, red wine, apple cider, champagne, rice, white and sherry vinegars, but no white wine vinegar. Sheesh. So I substituted champagne vinegar and it worked just fine.

Give it a good whisk.

The couscous process is simple. Bring 1 1/2 c. water to a boil, add in a Tbsp. of butter, then pour over couscous and cover for 5 minutes. Voila! You have couscous!

But it's the sauce and chopped goodness that really elevates this. Add the sauce in first, stirring and fluffing with the fork. Then add in the remaining ingredients and stir.


Curried Couscous
Serves: 6
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated (or small diced) carrots
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/4 cup blanched, sliced almonds
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup small diced red onion 
Place the couscous in a medium, heatsafe bowl. Melt the butter in the boiling water and pour over the couscous. Cover tightly and allow the couscous to soak for 5 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Pour over the fluffed couscous and mix well with a fork. Add the carrots, parsley, currants (or craisins), almonds, scallions, and red onions; mix well and taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook


  1. I'm excited to try this! My friend, Astrid, makes a great curried couscous, but it has celery, which I avoid like the plague. This sounds like a great non-celery alternative!

  2. I'm going to try this with quinoa!