Spicing up couscous
I have played around quite a bit with tea as a flavoring for vegetables, rice, fish, and other dishes. A few months ago, I was trying to decide on a good tea combo for adding some extra flavor to couscous. Most of the time, I use actual tea (made from the Camellia sinensis plant). Late one evening, however, when I was enjoying a cup of rooibos — a.k.a. African red bush — it occurred to me that it might make a great ingredient as well.
Straight rooibos wasn’t quite the flavor I was looking for, but one of the more popular blends at our tea bar seemed like just the ticket: Jamaica Red Rooibos from Rishi Tea.
The tea is named for the Jamaica flower, which is one of the nicknames for a variety of hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa) commonly used in tea. Rishi’s blend is complex. In addition to the rooibos and hibiscus flowers, it also contains lemongrass, schizandra berries, rosehips, licorice root, orange peel, passion fruit flavor, essential oils of orange and tangerine, mango flavor, and essential clove oil.
After a bit of monkeying around, I settled on a very simple recipe:
- Following the instructions with your particular couscous, bring enough water for four servings to a boil, and remove from heat.
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of Jamaica Red Rooibos and steep for seven minutes.
- Remove the leaves. I used a disposable tea filter. You could just as easily dump the leaves in the water and pour through a strainer.
- Bring the water back to a boil and add the couscous.
- Continue as you would for unflavored couscous.
For a little bit of extra texture, try adding a few tablespoons of chopped walnuts.
You can buy this tea from a variety of sources, including (of course) our own tea bar.
UPDATE May 2012: The Tea Bar’s website is now up and running, and you can order Jamaica Red Rooibos here.