Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ensnared On the Internet, I Find Tangine

           The internet is supposedly making the world smaller connecting us all to each other. I’m amazed by how I am instantaneously connected with people as far away as Europe, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. At the same time, we’re each connecting in our own houses on our individual computers.

            While we connect on-line with people from around the world, we forget how to treat those we encounter every day. How many of you are surprised by announcements on the bus or the el to give priority seating to the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant women? Didn’t everyone know that before? How annoying is it that at plays and movies people have to be reminded to turn off their cell phones? About a year ago, we went to a play during which a woman received three cell phone calls. We’re so used to watching movies on DVD’s in our own spaces that we forget how to be courteous in public, a major downside of the internet age.

            A positive are the instant surprising connections. I had a bunch of sweet potatoes that I needed to use up and decided to look on the internet for a recipe for sweet potato tangine. It’s a Moroccan dish that I probably wouldn’t have even heard of 15 or 20 years ago. A couple of clicks on Google led me to a choice of 10 or 20 recipes. I chose the following recipe for sweet potato tangine with lemon couscous. It serves about 4 to 6 people. The preparation time was about 30 minutes most of it spent getting the ingredients together, but we now have plenty of. We tried it last night and it was really good.

                                                            Sweet Potato Tangine

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ras-el-hanout (Even in ethnically diverse Skokie, I didn’t know what that was nor where to look for it so I left it out of the recipe.)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2lb4oz sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp honey
½ tsp saffron
7 fl oz water
1 ½ oz. Preserved lemons finely chopped (I cheated and used lemon juice)
4 ½ oz dried apricots
4 oz green olives
1 ½ oz whole almonds
1 small bunch coriander (I didn’t have that in the house either and used the powder)

Heat a large, deep frying pan with a lid until hot. Add the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes.
Add all the spices and fry for one minute.
Add the sweet potatoes and stir well.
Add all the remaining ingredients, stir well, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

                                                            Lemon Couscous

7 oz couscous
2 tbsp olive oil
½ oz preserved lemons, rinsed, drained, pulp removed finely chopped
½ lemon, juice only
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves to serve

Place the couscous in enough boiling water to cover.
Add the olive oil, preserved lemon and lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Stir well and set aside for 3-5 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
Add the coriander leaves.

Serve the couscous and then serve the tangine over it. It was so good even with some substitute ingredients. Imagine what the real thing would taste like.

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