Chilled Couscous with North African Flavors

Serves 4

Drained Yogurt has a texture similar to sour cream, and in this salad, it becomes the base for a dressing to which sweet and hot spices are added, along with oil and lemon juice. The dressing is mixed with the couscous and with diced tomato for extra juiciness. Serve with chicken, fish, pork, beef, and especially lamb.

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Generous pinch of freshly ground Lampung Black Pepper
Bay of Fundy Sea Salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup uncooked couscous
1 teaspoon oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or mint or 2 teaspoons dried
1 large tomato (6-8 ounces), cored and diced
Lettuce leaves (optional)
Sliced cucumbers (optional)

To drain the yogurt: Place a strainer over a small bowl and line it with a paper towel. Place the yogurt in the strainer and set aside to drain for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until you have 1/2 cup thick yogurt. Discard the liquid and transfer the yogurt to the small bowl by rolling it our of the towel and scraping any extra off the towel with a rubber spatula.

Add the spices, pepper, 1/4 teaspoon salt, oil and lemon juice. Mix well and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Meanwhile, steam the couscous: Place the couscous in a medium bowl and pour about 2 cups of water over it. Swirl to rinse, then drain the couscous in a mesh strainer. Return it to the bowl and let stand 15 minutes so it swells and absorbs the moisture. Toss with a fork and place the couscous in the top of a couscousiere or in a colander that fits into a larger pot.

Fill the pot or couscousiere with 2 inches of water, making sure that the colander does not touch the water. Cover and steam 20 minutes over medium heat. Return the couscous to the bowl and add 2 tablespoons water. Toss well with a fork to mix. Cover with a towel and let stand 10 minutes.

Add the oil and mix thoroughly with the fork. Return the couscous to the colander or couscousiere and steam for 20 minutes more, or until tender. When done, you should have about 2 cups. Transfer to a medium bowl, cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator.

When the couscous is cold, add the reserved yogurt sauce, parsley or mint, and diced tomato. Mix all of the ingredients well with a fork. Let the dish marinate 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator, then serve on a bed of lettuce surrounded by cucumbers, if desired.

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