Lemon Spiced Cous Cous

potatoes for lemon couscousNever say never, but I could never cut rice out of my diet.  When I say rice, I’m referring to white Basmati rice.  Not the brown stuff, but that’s okay sometimes too.  Of course, I know that a diet high in refined carbs like white rice can lead to an unhealthy heart.  But rice is so good.  And we barely eat real butter at is.  And I was raised in a South Indian family.  So it’s not really a meal unless you have rice.  Pizza for dinner followed by a little bowl of rice and yogurt just to make it a proper meal.  Doesn’t everyone do that?

South Indian lemon rice is one of my favorite rice dishes.  It’s tangy and tart more so than spicy and has little crunchy bits of nuts, roasted moong urad daal, cumin seeds and channa daal.  Mostly it’s the tanginess of freshly squeezed lemon juice that does it for me. If you’re looking to cut down on rice – and even if you aren’t – cous cous can make for a good substitute.

lemony spiced cous cous

Lemon Spiced Cous Cous
~About 4-5 servings~

~Adapted from my parent’s recipe as told to me~

I added tiny chopped potatoes to this Lemon Spiced Cous Cous to make it more filling for dinner.  You could try peas or carrots as well.  Also, you’ll notice from the pictures that I forgot the nuts but they are a great addition.

2 teaspoons urad daal, washed
3 teaspoons channa daal, washed
Handful of curry leaves, washed
3-4 dried red chili peppers or 2 green chilies diced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
Handful of cashews or peanuts, roasted
3 small/medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed into small pieces*
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cups cous cous

1. In a large saucepan, heat about 1 tablespoon oil.  Add the first 6 ingredients and cook on medium low until the urad daal and channa daal are golden.  Be careful not to let them burn.

2. Add the potatoes and the nuts.  Cook covered until the potatoes are golden and soft, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with turmeric and mix well.

3. Add 4 cups of water to the sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add salt.

4. Stir in the cous cous.  Turn off heat and cover for about 3-4 minutes.

5. Shower with the lemon juice and mix well. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately with a side of raita.

To heat up the leftovers in the microwave, sprinkle a little water over the cous cous then microwave.

*The potatoes should be should be cut into small pieces, about half an inch, so that they cook quickly.

lemon spiced cous cous bowl


4 responses to “Lemon Spiced Cous Cous”

  1. I tried this as a potential side dish to accompany a lamb tagine I am making for Easter on Sunday. I too loved the tang of the fresh lemon and the crunchiness of the various seeds and lentils. I substituted pistachios for the cashews to make it a bit more North African. They were good, but were overpowered by the cumin and mustard seed, so I’m not sure I’ll use them. I may also leave out the potatoes when I make it this weekend so the dish is not too heavy for the lamb. Will let you know how it goes down.

  2. “Pizza for dinner followed by a little bowl of rice and yogurt just to make it a proper meal. Doesn’t everyone do that?”
    Wait normal people don’t do that? Lol south indian problems, my family was the same way!

    This looks good, I’ll have to try it out sometime!

    • @Ckotha – I’m glad we weren’t the only ones. I suspect there are more than a few South Indians who ordered their Pizza Hut pizza “thin and crispy” then dipped it in sambar 🙂

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