There is nothing quite like the aroma of calamari on the grill to awaken memories of holidays by the sea. So fire up the barbecue and eat this in the garden on a hot summer’s night. The couscous is thick, rich, and intensely spicy — the perfect foil to simply grilled calamari. It is also delicious served cold. Zhoug is a fiercely hot coriander (cilantro) relish, which is the perfect condiment for many seafood dishes. — Greg and Lucy Malouf, authors of Moorish
- 1/4 Cup olive oil
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed with 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 Teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 Teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 Teaspoon allspice
- 1 Teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 Teaspoon sweet paprika
- One 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 green chile, seeded, scraped and finely shredded
- 1 Teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper
- 3 1/2 Ounces couscous
- 3 1/2 Ounces chickpeas, (garbanzo beans) soaked and cooked
- 6 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 Tablespoon finely chopped mint
- 12 medium-sized squid tubes, split and scored on the outside
- 1/3 Cup olive oil
- 1/2 Cup zhoug (see below)
- Juice of 1 lemon
For the zhoug:
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 Teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 Teaspoon caraway seeds
- 2 Cups fresh coriander (cilantro), roots removed
- 4 -6 small red chiles, seeded and scraped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1/4 Teaspoon sea salt
- A splash of water
To make the couscous, heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion, and cook over a gentle heat until soft.
Then add the garlic, coriander, cumin, allspice, chili powder, and paprika, and mix well.
Cook for a further 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, green chile, and honey.
Cook for another 10 minutes, then taste for seasoning.
Now add the couscous, chickpeas, and olives, cover the pan and cook over a low heat until the couscous swells and softens. This will take 5–10 minutes.
When you are ready to eat, heat a griddle pan or barbecue to its highest temperature.
Brush the squid with olive oil and season, then place the squid, scored side down, on the hot plate.
After 40 seconds, turn them over.
In a few moments, they will curl into a tight cylinder. Cook for no more than a minute, then remove from the heat.
To serve, stir the parsley and mint through the couscous.
Place the calamari on top and dot with tiny dollops of zhoug. (Be careful — it is very hot!)
Sprinkle with lemon juice, and serve with plenty of warm Arabic bread.
For the zhoug:
Crush the cardamom pods, peppercorns, and caraway seeds in a mortar and pestle, then sift to remove the husks.
Wash and thoroughly dry the coriander.
Put the chiles, coriander, garlic, salt, and water in a blender, add the spices, and mix well.
Tip into a jar and seal with 1 tablespoon olive oil. It will keep for around a week in the refrigerator.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Moorish: Flavours from Mecca to Marrakech by Greg and Lucy Malouf (Hardie Grant Books, 2014)