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. —Niknud
yellow mustard seeds
cardamom pods, lightly smashed
medium yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
water (or broth)
yellow mustard seeds
cayenne (optional but recommended)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Full-time working wife and mother of two small boys whose obsessive need to cook delicious food is threatening to take over what little free time I have. I grew up in a family of serious cookers but didn't learn to cook myself until I got married and got out of the military and discovered the joys of micro-graters, ethiopian food, immersion blenders and watching my husband roll around on the floor after four servings of pulled pork tamales (with real lard!) complaining that he's so full he can't feel his legs. Trying to graduate from novice cooker to ranked amateur. The days of 'the biscuit incident of aught five' as my husband refers to it are long past but I still haven't tried my hand at paella so I'm a work in progress!