Aubergine Carrot Couscous – Bazaar Review & Giveaway
At last we have the long awaited (by me at least) vegetarian cookbook from Sabrina Ghayour. Bazaar: vibrant vegetarian recipes is pretty much what you’d expect from the title. It’s packed with mostly Middle Eastern inspired recipes from a talented flavour enthusiast. Flick through the pages and you’ll find dishes both vibrant and exciting. Read on to learn more about the book along with a recipe for roasted aubergine carrot couscous. Oh, and there’s a giveaway too.
Sabrina is a British-Iranian chef and has been cooking and writing about Persian and Middle Eastern food for many years. She already has three bestselling cookbooks: Persiana, Sirocco and Feasts. Bazaar is her fourth. Before ever she published her first book in 2014, I was asking her for vegetarian recipes. It’ may have taken five years, but now we have some. And what a fabulous book it is, dedicated to cooking vegetables in an interesting and flavoursome way. It was worth the wait.
The subtitle, vibrant vegetarian recipes, says it all really. Bazaar is one beautiful book full of mouthwatering recipes that are jam packed with flavour. The title comes from the ancient Persian word for market. For me, this instantly conjures up a bustling square filled with all sorts of wonderful vegetables, colours and textures. I remember the amazing fruit and vegetable markets back in Alexandria and get excited by the very thought.
Although there are a few vegan recipes in the book, these are incidental. There’s plenty of cheese, butter and yoghurt to be had. The book is very much aimed at those who want to eat less meat and existing vegetarians who want to widen their repertoire. Having said that, I chose to try a vegan recipe for this post: roasted aubergine carrot couscous. Aubergines are a favoured ingredient in the book and star in recipes such as aubergines in tomato & tamarind sauce and aubergine & caramelised kuku. I’m a recent convert to aubergines, or eggplants as they’re also known, so I was delighted to get a few more ideas on how to cook this beautiful glossy vegetable.
The book begins with a chapter on my favourite way of eating, Light Bites & Sharing Plates. Carrot, halloumi & dill balls has my name written all over them. I really must see if I can wangle a dinner invite from Sabrina. Now wouldn’t that be something? Although recipes are mostly inspired by the Middle East, Sabrina’s is obviously influenced by her Britishness too. This comes out in recipes such as feta & spring onion-stuffed potato skins and potato crisps with spiced salt & lime.
There’s a whole chapter dedicated to Eggs & Dairy. I was excited to see that one of my favourite cheeses, halloumi, plays a starring role. I suspect I’m not alone in this. Yes, those grilled halloumi flatbreads with preserved lemon & barberry salsa will be appearing on my table in the not too distant future. Kuku is an Iranian egg dish similar to an Italian frittata. There are two kuku recipes in this chapter. The one I found particularly interesting was for kale & cabbage kuku with pine nuts. Again, you get a fusion of flavours to excite the palate.
Other chapters cover: Soups & Bowl Comfort, Pies, Breads & Pastries, Salads for all Seasons, Moreish Mains, Store-Cupboard Sustenance, Spectacular Sides and Sweet Treats. Soups are a staple fare for us, so I was delighted to see a really hearty recipe for rice & vegetable aash with puy lentils. Aash is a Persian staple, which Sabrina says is “the best comfort food on a cold day and a virtuous enough to be the perfect meal all year round”. Other recipes that jumped out at me were: blackberry, beetroot & za’atar goats’ cheese salad, harissa black bean ragout and roast vegetable bastilla, which is a Moroccan pastry pie.
What I particularly liked about the book
Bazaar is very much my sort of book. I loved leafing through the recipes, reading the ingredients and gazing at the gorgeous photos. Readers will find plenty of inspiration and some surprises. I was not expecting beetroot halva tart for example. What fun. Oh, how I wish CT didn’t have an aversion to beetroot.
The recipes are big hearted, both in style and substance. They’re varied, colourful and have plenty of bold flavours. Everything seems very doable which is home cooking at its best. I want to eat every single recipe in the book and I want to try cooking most of them too.
Middle Eastern food is one of my favourite cuisines. But many of Sabrina’s recipes are a fusion of flavours and foods, combining influences from Persia, the Middle East, The East and dear old Britain. This makes the recipes particularly exciting. How about a classic British macaroni cheese getting a face lift as a feta, pul biber & oregano macaroni bake? It sounds good to me.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the embedded bookmark. I do like a cookbook that comes with a ribbon to mark your place. It should be compulsory to have at least one, three would be even better. This bookmark in a stylish yellow which matches the yellow on the front cover.
What I think could be improved on
Really, I don’t have much to say on how this book could be improved. It is perhaps a bit London centric. The ingredients are mostly ones that are easy to get hold of. However, there are a few that come up in several of the recipes that I suspect are hard to source outside of London and the big cities. I have no idea where to buy pul biber chilli flakes, for example. A page at the back of the book with some advice on sourcing the less common ingredients would help.
I’ve only made one recipe so far. Based on that recipe, I would say that Bazaar is best suited to those who are looking for inspiration rather than to novice cooks. I needed to add twice the amount of water stated in the recipe. That wasn’t an issue for me, but it might well be for someone who hasn’t cooked with couscous before.
Bazaar: vibrant vegetarian recipes / Sabrina Ghayour. Published by Mitchell Beazley in hardback with an RRP of £26. ISBN – 9781784725174.
Roasted Aubergine Carrot Couscous
Roasted aubergine carrot couscous is a nice simple recipe that requires relatively little effort to prepare. I do like these sorts of recipes. The aubergine and carrots are roasted in the oven, whilst the remaining ingredients gently steam in a pan. It’s then just a case of combining the two and adding a few herbs and seasoning.
The recipe calls for dill. I couldn’t find any anywhere. We used to grow it down on the plot and oh, how I miss it. Now we’re getting our new garden into shape, I think I’ll try growing some again next year. I reckon dill would be a lovely addition to the roasted aubergine carrot couscous, but I had to make do with double quantities of parsley instead.
In the end, I made only half of the recipe. It was more than enough to feed two of us for dinner. I only had one aubergine, but it was a large (ish) one, so I used more carrots than the recipe stated and roasted them both in the same tray. Naughtily, I added a leek to the roasting veg. We had one lurking in the veg rack, which I’d have had to throw away if it wasn’t used immediately. As you know, I can’t bear waste. I also only used half a preserved lemon as that was all I had. The flavour still came through loud and clear though, so I was happy with that amount.
There was plenty there to fill us up and enough for CT to take to work the next day in a lunchbox. He said it was nearly as good cold as it was hot the previous night.
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Thanks for visiting Tin and Thyme. If you get hold of Bazaar* or try this recipe for aubergine carrot couscous, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below or via social media. Do share photos on your preferred social media site and use the hashtag #tinandthyme, so I can spot them. For further book reviews, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.
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Roasted Aubergine Carrot Couscous – The Recipe
This spicy couscous dish is simple to make and requires little effort. It's ideal for a mid-week supper. Its also good cold the next day and is perfect for lunchboxes.
- 4 aubergines - diced into 2.5 cm cubes
- extra virgin olive oil
- 6 small carrots - cut into batons
- 2 tsp dried wild oregano
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 300 g couscous
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 fat garlic cloves - crushed
- 450 ml hot water I used twice this amount
- 4-5 preserved lemons - finely chopped
- 1 small packet dill (30g) - finely chopped
- 1 small packed parsley (30g) - finely chopped
- Maldon sea salt flakes
- freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220℃, 200℃, Gas Mark 7. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, plus a smaller one.
Place the aubergines into the largest tray. Season with pepper and drizzle over a generous amount of olive oil. Place the tray on a higher oven shelf. Add the carrots to the smaller tray and season with salt, pepper and the oregano. Place on a lower shelf in the oven. Roast both for 25-30 minutes. The aubergine should be cooked through and brown and the carrots cooked and charred around the edges.
Place the cumin seeds in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Toast the them over a medium-high heat for 1 minute - without the lid. Add the couscous and allow to toast briefly. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the other spices, garlic, hot water, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside for 8-10 minutes to allow the grains to absorb the liquid.
Once the liquid has been absorbed, use a fork to carefully fluff up the couscous. Add the roasted veg, the preserved lemon and herbs, then fold carefully together. Return to the heat briefly, if needed, and serve hot.
As I only made half the amount, I found everything fitted into my largest baking tray, so I roasted the aubergines and carrots together.
I’m sharing this recipe for roasted aubergine carrot couscous with A Strong Coffee for #CookBlogShare.
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