Friday, September 3, 2010

Israeli Cous Cous, Garam Masala Vegetables & Coconut Crusted Tempeh

I have a craving for indian food that cannot be denied. I want to eat it every day all the time over and over. Why? I have no clue, but I do know that I get a craving, I don't deny it. One problem: I have no clue how to cook indian food. Ooh. So back to the wide world of Google I go; and what do I find? Thank goodness!

So if you visit often, you do know that I have a very hard time following a recipe, which isn't a bad thing if I know 'what' I'm cooking enough to know kind of sort of what it should taste like. The problem with this irritating craving for indian food is that I have only eaten indian food like once in my life... when I was living in London. I walked into the neighborhood indian restaurant and said "I don't know... serve me whatever". It was actually good :)

That being said, I have a confession to make and I kind of feel dumb because I'm sure someone who actually knows how to cook indian food is going to read this and be like, 'uh, THAT is not indian food and wtf about the recipe she apparently followed?' Ok, so I might be a little self conscious about this; but it was good; indian or not :)

So here is my confession: The recipe I found and wanted to do was Masoor Dal, but I didn't know what the heck Masoor Dal was, let alone where to find it, what it looked like or how it tasted so I used israeli cous cous instead. And then, to add insult to this recipe's 'injury', I added broccoli, carrots and tempeh marinated and dredged in coconut. So basically I used this from the recipe: garam masala, onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Thank you though, to for giving me some inspiration to create the Ellen version of indian :)

Oh, and Honey wants everyone to know that this meal is best eaten when you combine a bite of the tempeh with a bite of the 'tower'. 'The combination is a-mazing!' says Honey.

Yield 6 large or 8 smaller servings

1 pkg tempeh, sliced into 8 'fingers'
1 can coconut milk
1 Tablespoon garam masala, plus 1 more, plus 1 more
About 1 3/4 cups coconut flakes
2 cups dry israeli cous cous
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, smashed through a garlic smasher or chopped
1 sweet white onion, chopped
1 small head brocolli, cut into about 1 inch florets
3 carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
About 1 Tablespoon ginger (that's about a 1 inch piece, chopped)
1 can chopped tomatoes (with the juice)
Salt and pepper
Flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish
Sriracha sauce, for plating

Slice your tempeh and put in a low dish, ideal for marination. Cover tempeh with coconut milk and sprinkle the first Tablespoon of garam masala on top. Cover the dish, give it a light toss and let marinate for at least 30 min if not an hour.

While your tempeh is marinating, combine the cous cous, vegetable broth, water, garam masala and a dash of salt in a pot. Bring to a boil and stir every once in a while. After about 3 minutes of cooking, turn the heat down a little and cover. Continue to let cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring every once in a while.

When your cous cous is done, simply turn the heat off and let stand covered, until everything else is done and you're ready to plate.

In a fairly good sized skillet or saute pan, heat some olive oil and saute the garlic and onion for about 5 minutes then add the broccoli, carrot ginger and another Tablespoon garam masala.

Let cook for about another 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and a little salt and pepper. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes then give it a taste. Add more salt and pepper as needed.

Back to your tempeh: pour some of the coconut flakes onto a plate. Piece by piece, dredge them in the coconut flakes, pressing the flakes into the tempeh, ensuring maximum coverage on all sides.

Heat a small pan and add a little oil. When your tempeh pieces are ready, add them to the pan and cook on each side (there are four) for about two minutes each, or until toasty golden brown.

Ok, so you have all these components, how do you put them together? You could just pile a bit of cous cous on a plate, top it with the veg and finish it off with the coconut tempeh. That would be just fine, but here is what I did:

Make a mold out of tin foil! (Note: if you have a fancy schmancy mold, feel free to use it... I like the ghetto mold :)) Tear off a piece of tin foil that is about 11 inches long. Fold it in half so the height is about 4 inches tall. Bring the ends together, creating a circle. To 'secure' just bend the top end a little bit; it doesn't have to be totally perfectly secure.

Place your fantastical mold in the center of your plate. Fluff your cous cous and start filling your mold with it. Fill your mold a little less than half way, pressing the cous cous down as you go to ensure proper 'mold-ation' (new word).

On top of your mold-ated cous cous, begin layering your veg mix, again, pressing down as you go. Fill the mold almost to the top but not quite.

Now is the time to remove your mold! If you have compacted enough, it will be lovely circular delicousness. If not, it will still be delicious, just a little more 'art nouveau' (or is it art deco?).

To finish your plate,  garnish with chopped parsley and stack your delicous coconut crusted tempeh fingers next to your tower. On the other side, dab the sriracha sauce and use a spoon to drag it down the plate, creating an artful design.



Garam Masala


  1. Tempeh, couscous, coconut milk, garam masala...authentic or not, it sounds great to me! And the finished product is beautiful.

    If I may...I must recommend a couple recipes to you :D You HAVE to try cooking masoor dal (split red lentils) - so easy! Indian curried lentils
    And this one is kind of like a vegan paneer tikka masala: Tofu makhani curry
    And the delicious combo of beans & lentils: Dal makhani

  2. Another wonderful dish. Great big bold flavors. Love the presentation.

  3. That looks really cool. Thanks for sharing the updates here on the same



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