I have some diners who do not eat starch or fruit. In converting my Moroccan oxtail tajine to chicken I have had to deconstruct it to make some of my diners happy. I have moved all of the starch and fruit into this side dish. Green lentils take some time to cook while couscous cooks in no time at all. The trick here is to cook the dried fruit and lentils until almost done and then add more cooking liquid for the couscous.
While I want this dish to be “Moroccan” I am using my Moroccan spice blend in both of my other dishes. To make this dish stand out I will use only a few of the 26 herbs and spices I used in the spice blend.
Last week the local paper’s food section had an article on using quinces. As I was scanning recipes on-line, I found a tajine that also included quinces. Since I have never tried quinces, there is no time like the present to include them in a dish. I plan on flavoring the quince with rose water and using them as a garnish for this dish.
Note: Prepared this way the quince tasted very much like a loquat.
Karl’s Moroccan Quince and Green Lentil Pilaf
½ cup green lentils
1 Tbs. butter (or olive oil)
½ cup red onion, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. ginger, powdered
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. turmeric
Pinch allspice, ground
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch Kosher salt
¼ cup dried apricots, diced
2 cups chicken broth, separate uses (for Vegan use vegetable broth)
1 cup couscous
1 tsp. rose water
1 Tbs. butter (for Vegan leave this out)
2 tsp. honey (for Vegan use Agave syrup)
½ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch Kosher salt
1. Sort and wash the lentils.
Tip: You should always check beans and lentils for stones and wash away any dirt. If the package does not say they have been “triple cleaned” (sorted for bad beans, stones and dirt) than they probably have not been.
2. In a medium pot with at tight lid, sauté the onions in the butter over medium high heat until just translucent.
3. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute more.
4. Add the spices and heat for 15 seconds to bloom the flavors.
5. Add the lentils, apricots, and one cup of chicken broth. Bring to the pot to a boil, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until just tender.
Tip: The longer lentils have been on the shelf the longer they will take to cook.
6. While the lentils are simmering, prepare the quinces. Peel, quarter, and core them.
Tip: Put the finished sections of quince into a bowl of water to prevent them from turning brown.
7. Drain the quinces and put them in a medium sauté pan. Cover with water, and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.
Tip: You want the quinces tender but not falling apart.
8. Remove the quinces to a bowl and reserve several tablespoons of the poaching liquid. Discard the rest of the liquid.
9. Add the reserved broth, rose water, butter, cinnamon, sugar, honey and salt to the pan.
10. While stirring, bring the mixture to a simmer. Return the quinces to the pan and cook until a thick syrup forms, about 5 minutes. When done remove from the heat and set aside.
Tip: Occasionally stir or turn the quinces to coat them with the syrup on all sides, but try not to break them.
11. When the lentils are almost ready add one cup of chicken broth to the pot and bring it to a boil.
12. Stir in the couscous, and continuing to stir, boil it for one minute.
13. Cover the pot tightly and remove from the heat.
14. Let the pilaf stand for 5 minutes.
15. Fluff the pilaf and transfer it to a serving bowl.
16. Arrange the quinces over the top and serve.