Couscous with Onions, Golden Raisins and Spiced Butter

March 7, 2016
Couscous with Onions, Golden Raisins and Spiced Butter

Author Notes: Yum, spiced butter. You will have leftover butter, so feel free to use it on roasted veggies. This is a vegetarian version, but it would be equally good with some cooked chicken or shrimp I think. The spiced butter can be made ahead - just refrigerate and use when you cook the rest of the dish.
Day 3 post cooking note: still delicious. equally good over white rice.

Serves: 4-6


  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly smashed
  • 6 medium yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3 cups water (or broth)
  • 3/4 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoons cayenne (optional but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
In This Recipe


  1. In a small saucepan, melt 8 tablespoons butter. Add the cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, turmeric and cardamom pods and cook over lowest possible heat for at least 30 minutes. An hour is better. Strain out the solids and reserve the cinnamon stick.
  2. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt two tablespoons of the spiced butter you just made over medium low heat and add the onions. Cook until soft and deep golden in color, stirring occasionally. This will take a while. Anyone that tells you that you can caramelize onions in 20 minutes lies. And, because I am not cruel and mean-spirited, I will not do this to you. Plan on this taking the better part of an hour. Get your glass of wine, your book and a can-do attitude and plan on setting up there next to your stove for a while.
  3. When the onions are done, add the raisins, reserved cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, cayenne, ginger and water (or broth). Add another tablespoon or two of the spiced butter. Cook until most of the water is gone and you are left with a glorious, fragrant pile of mush. Salt to taste.
  4. Bring 2 1/2 cups of salted water to a boil in a small pot (with a lid). If you're feeling reckless, you can always add a pat of the spiced butter here too. Stir in the couscous and return to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes without disturbing. Fluff with a fork.
  5. To serve: couscous on the bottom, onion/raisin mush on top, pine nuts scattered over it all. And, as with most things besides seafood, it tastes awesome the next day.

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