Couscous Could Taste Better With Some Creativity
An adventurous cook, Dr Biodun Cladius Cole of the Department of Crop Protection and Environmental Biology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, sheds light on what to look out for before purchasing vegetables and her venture to transform cous cous - a rather bland dish - into a tasty fare with BLESSING EKUM.
What are your meals like?
I eat two meals a day; breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is usually light. I have cereal, oats or sandwich. I try to make the sandwiches healthy, so I use fresh vegetables. I also take light meals for dinner. I hardly have lunch.
What is a typical day like for you?
My day starts at about 5.30 a.m. After preparing food for everybody and
dr-opping off the kids at school, I come to work where I have lectures in the mornings, some research work during the day and visitation from students during the day for consultation on their research work.
Since you don't have lunch, is the cereal and sandwich enough to keep you going throughout the day?
I am not a very heavy eater, so, a sandwich in the morning gets my metabolism running. Accompanied with the sandwich, I have half a litre of juice. I am also a coffee person. Though I don't drink too much of it, I have at least a cup a day. The caffeine keeps me mentally alert and energized for the mentally challenging tasks I have to undertake. I like food but I don't eat a lot.
Are you on a diet?
Not intentionally. Occasionally, when I notice I've gained a bit of weight, I have salads for dinner for about two or three times a week. I also stay away from meals that are heavy in carbohydrate and take more of vegetables.
What should one look out for when buying vegetables?
You should look out for the freshness of the leaves and being
some-one in agriculture, I recommend that you look out for the maturity of the plant. Usually when a plant, leafy vegetables to be specific, is getting to the point where it is beginning to mature, the plant would have started to send its nutrients toward the leaves. So, to enjoy the nutrients in the leaves, you should get it before it starts having flowers.
Do you have a favourite traditional dish?
My favourite traditional dish is amala with ewedu and gbegiri. It is light and even if you have it for dinner, it won't weigh you down.
Is there any dish you don't like?
I didn't like eko (solid pap). It is supposed to be a nice meal and people like it because it is light but I don't like it. Even as a child, I never really liked it.
What dish do you prepare for your family during special occasions?
My family doesn't have a special occasion dish per se. I like to try out new recipes so, when there is any occasion that is restricted to the immediate family, I try out a new recipe, probably a non-Nigerian dish. I am adventurous with food and I like to try new recipes. If I have been some place and I am served a meal I haven't had before, I would not hesitate to taste it and ask of the recipe.
What dish have you ventured into of recent?
That would be couscous.
How did your family react to it?
My husband didn't really like it the first time I prepared it but by the second time, he enjoyed it.
How did it turn out the first time you prepared it?
The first time I ate couscous was when I went to one of the French-speaking African countries. I saw it in a supermarket and decided to buy it. I followed the instructions and cooked it. The first time I prepared it, it didn't quite work out. But by the second time, I added my own touches to it and I liked the turnout. Couscous is light and can be served for dinner. When eaten plain, it is not very tasty.
Could you share the recipe?
You will need couscous, salt, butter, bunion cubes, olive oil, sweet corn, green peas.
Measure the quantity needed and add to boiling water of twice the amount of the couscous. Allow to sit for about five to ten minutes. Put on low heat and add some butter and salt and allow to simmer. Add some bunion cubes, olive oil, sweet corn, green peas.
To make it tastier, sometimes, I serve the couscous with sauce which could be tomato sauce in which case, I blend tomatoes, pepper and onions and fry it, add some spices and rather than putting it on top of the couscous, serve it on the side. The other kind of sauce is the
vegetable sauce where I used green pepper, carrots and spring onions.
Serve with salad and chicken.