Imagine, you have a family doctor you completely trust. You automatically feel better if you just talk to him or take medicines prescribed by him. Think about your surprise or should I say shock, if one day you find out that he / she was a fake doctor. Now, hold on to that thought…
I’ve a small request for you… please don't feel cheated after reading the whole thing. I know you may feel like I’ve been fooling you all these years, but let me explain.
This happened during my initial days of cooking. A month or so after our wedding. I was thrilled to play “house” in real life, with my own kitchen and all the accessories and ingredients in it. I was over enthusiastic to entertain friends over at our house. On one such day, we invited one of our friends home for dinner.
Those days, Biriyani was my go to dish. Friends came over, chatted for sometime and later on I eagerly served my biriyani to them. They enjoyed it very much and was a bit surprised that I was making biriyani, with such limited cooking experience and that too a Dum Biriyani!
Before leaving, my friend came and asked me the recipe.
Let’s just call her Tara. (For the record, I’m not using my friend’s real name and I don't have any friends named Tara). If you are a regular here, you know that I generally use all my friends name as is. But this is an exception, because you’ll soon realise that my friend will be happy that I spared her.
Tara is senior to me by a few years and at that time, she has been married for 3-4 years and a good cook too. So, Tara asked me for the recipe. I was flattered that someone with more cooking experience than me was asking me for the recipe! I jotted down the recipe with much excitement and shared it with her. But after getting the recipe, Tara, was a bit confused. Because I mentioned “kashakasha” (poppy seeds) in the recipe.
She double checked with me whether I used “kashakasha” in the biriyani that I made for them. Now, it was my turn to be confused, I was like “yes, I’m sure. But is there any problem with it? Why are you asking me again?”
That’s when she told me “kashakasha” is banned in Middle East and it’s not available here. I was kinda shocked! Because I had a tin full of “kashakasha” which i bought from a supermarket in Bahrain.
Secretly, I was pretty pleased with myself thinking, I could easily find ingredients which even long term Bahrain residents couldn't find. So with much fanfare I retrieved the “kashakasha” tin from my kitchen cupboard. Well, I’m sure by now you’ve figured it out…
I was holding “Couscous” thinking it was “kashakasha”!!! (Poppy seeds is called Kashakasha in Malayalam and some people call it “kuskus” also. Now you see why I got duped!)
Tara explained to me the whole thing and suddenly I felt embarrassed at my ignorance. The story doesn't end there, here is the twist. After Tara discovered the mystery behind my couscous, she asked me to pack some couscous for her in anycase. So I gave it to her.
Fast forward many years… A few months ago we had a get together at one of our common friends. Somehow we ended up sharing our “kashakasha” story and that’s when Tara told me that she did use that Couscous to make biryani ;)
Honestly, sometimes when I get your comments saying that you trust my recipes so much, I think about this “kashakasha” incident and I can't help but feel like this fake doctor. That’s why I asked you in the beginning not to feel cheated after reading this.
Ok, to make things a little better, let me tell you this. I started the blog after one year of my marriage so I had some buffer to get my prescriptions right (as Jose has explained here) and before posting every recipe, I make sure I’m using the correct ingredients ;)
Now coming to this recipe, Couscous is a different version of Rava. Like Rava, Couscous doent have any flavour of it's own and absorbs the flavour of whatever is added to it. One of my favourite ways of eating Couscous is adding it to any left over curries (Chicken, Beef, Kadala, Paneer etc;). I reheat the left over curries on stove, add the couscous and required amount of boiling water. Mix well. Cover the dish and Switch off the gas, after 10 mins your one pot dish is ready :)
I've shared the recipe of a basic Couscous salad here. You can make it versatile by adding toppings of your choice, you can add grilled chicken or fish or cooked lentils to the salad, to make it more wholesome.