Romance in a Bowl!

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Years ago in a dark little kitchen shop, I picked up an old book filled with Persian recipes.  I remember exactly where I was standing in the shop, I remember being surrounded with various ingredients – spices, pulses, pots and pans. I remember this captivating photo of a jewelled rice, steaming and vibrant, it basically jumped off the page at me. I can’t say what the book was called, who wrote it, or even what the cover looked like; only that in some far away land there was a dish so beautiful and with the most perfect name. Jewel rice.

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The picture had nuts, seeds, fruits and rinds; truly I could almost taste it just by absorbing every inch of the photo. The dish, I have recreated in my own kitchen and with my own photos, building it more from what my mind thought it would taste like as opposed to what the recipe actually called for. To be honest, other than what I could pick out from the picture I am not even sure what that particular recipe included.

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My version uses Israeli couscous, which was introduced to me quite a few years ago and has been really the only wheat based pasta in my cupboard for years. I love how quick it cooks, how easy it is to use, and that like rice – it will take on whatever you use it with.  Ever since looking through that old book, I certainly romance Persian food in my mind. Mixing in a common love of aromatics and color. Cutting open a pomegranate to reveal the beautiful shining rubies that lay within it’s hard exterior, the soft buttery taste of a raw pistachio, the familiar sweetness of dried fruit and a subtle whiff of orange blossom and roses.  Doesn’t that sound amazing? Uh, yes! Romance in a bowl. Especially for this time of year! I know for me personally, winter requires as much color as possible – wherever it may come from!

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Jewelled Israeli Couscous

1 Cup Israeli Couscous
2 Cups of Water
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
2 Tsp Orange Blossom Water
Pinch of Saffron Threads
5-6 Green Cardamom Pods – cracked
1/2-1 Tsp True Cinnamon
1/2-1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Cup Dried Black Currants
1/3 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Raw Pistachios – shelled
1 Pomegranate
Zest from One Orange
1/3 Cup Raw Slivered Almonds
2 Tbsp Raw Hemp Hearts
Dried Rose
Himalayan Salt to Taste

In a medium pot bring the water to a boil, adding the couscous, coconut oil, true cinnamon, cumin and cardamom pods. Crush the saffron threads between your fingers before adding to the pot, season with a touch of salt. Turn the heat down, letting the couscous roll and expand with the water. Just before all the water has been absorbed, about 8-10 minutes, add the orange blossom water. Once the couscous has soaked up all of the water, remove the cardamom pods then add in the currants, raisins, and pistachios – cover and remove from the heat. To seed the pomegranate, cut it in quarters, by hand break each quarter in half. The seeds will pop out easily although it does take some love. Add the seeds from the pomegranate, the slivered almonds, orange zest and season again with salt, mix everything together. Top with the delicate little hemp hearts and dried rose just before serving!

2 thoughts on “Romance in a Bowl!

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