Editors Note: I’ve got to be honest. So I hadn’t cooked in a while and was trying to think of something I could post on ES. And then I remembered those kick-ass spices that I got from Gypsy‘s travels to Tunisia. Contest – now that’s an easy post. I had no idea that people would actually try to figure out that impossible 12. Especially for the lame prize of pre-made seasoning packets – basically the most opposite item anyone savvy enough to enter the contest would actually want.
Regardless, after checking the entries, we had a tie. And without even asking the co-winners, we decided to ride out the enthusiasm of the Spice Master Contest. So here we are, we demanded that ES readers guess spices they couldn’t even smell and now we’ve demanded that the co-winners give us recipes based on those same foreign spices. Luckily, both bobby (aka bobbyc) and JoeHoya took this opportunity to send in breathtaking recipes. Thank you to both.
So here we are with bobby’s Tunsian recipe. Tomorrow we’ll post JoeHoya’s recipe. And on Wednesday we’ll offer you a chance to vote for the winner in a special Who Cooked It Better: Spice Master Edition. Stay tuned.
Spice Master Contender: bobby
Typically when I cook a new dish, I look at a bunch of different recipes, get an understanding of the basic concept of the dish, keep the essential ingredients the same, and play around with the rest. For Coucha (spelled Koucha in some references), I couldn’t find any recipes — only descriptions. Odd, since most references describe it as a “Tunisian favorite.” The basic idea seems to involve cooking a young lamb shoulder smothered in oil and spices at low heat in a sealed earthen vessel — similar to a Moroccan tajine. The low heat for an extended period of time breaks down the fat, making everything delicious, and the sealed vessel keeps everything super-moist.
I built my own clay vessel out of flower pots at Lowes — just had to make sure everything sealed fairly well.
From the rest of my reading on Tunisian cuisine, I gathered that nearly every meal is served with couscous. It is prepared in a special couscoussière, which steams the grains while you cook a stew of meat, vegetables and spices below. I didn’t have one of these, so I put the couscous in boiling chicken broth, then mixed in an assortment of spiced vegetables.
To finish everything off, I mixed up some harissa — spicy pepper & garlic sauce. From what I gather, harissa is the ketchup of Tunisia, only with flavor.
Click through: full recipe, more pics, serving suggests