This couscous is inspired by a country dish I had read about in Chef Ramzi’s Culinary Heritage of Lebanon in which chick peas are cooked in grape molasses and water for hours till tender.
To add some depth of flavor, couscous, caramelized onions, a whole head of garlic and a generous pinch of zaatar or oregano are added to this rustic plate.
Sweet and very nutritious.
Grape molasses is loaded with iron, vitamins (C and A amongst them), and minerals (calcium); the chick peas provide protein and fiber and of course the onion and garlic all the antioxidants your heart would desire.
- 1/2 cup of grape molasses (can substitute another molasses)
- 4 cups of water
- 2 cups of cooked chick peas (a large can of 28 ounces or two regular cans)
- a tablespoon of zaatar or oregano
- pinch of allspice, black pepper, salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups of large-grain couscous (aka moghrabiyeh)
- 1 1/2 pounds of boiling onions, peeled and chopped
- 1 head of garlic
- olive oil, as needed
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil; add the chopped onions and fry for 45 minutes over very low heat until the onion are caramelized; add the garlic cloves and fry a few minutes.
- Drain the can of chick peas and rinse the chick peas well. Drop them in the pot, add 4 cups of water and 1/2 cup of grape molasses. Bring to a simmer and lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Sprinkle zaatar or oregano, black pepper, salt, allspice. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice from half a lemon.
- Drop the couscous in the pot. Stir and let it simmer slowly for about 45 minutes or until the couscous grains are firm but soft and chewy or al dente and the mixture is still moist but thick. Serve warm.
NOTE: The zaatar is sold in leaves. Here it does not refer to the mix sold in stores, also called zaatar. It can be substituted with oregano.
NOTE: The large-grain couscous is named moghrabiyeh in Lebanon and is sold packaged in Middle-Eastern stores. It is made with semolina.