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Tonight’s supper was comparatively light – tabouleh and humous, with store-bought chapatis.
Finished the humous I made last week over the weekend, so it was time to whip up another batch. Much like last night’s potato and turnip mash, it’s turning out to be no bad thing to have on hand.
My personal approach to humous is likely a far cry from the real deal, but, as we’ve seen with previous recipes, we’re no strangers to sacrilege in these parts.
Depending on the size of the batch I want to make, I usually go for 2 cans of chickpeas, 4-6 tablespoons tahineh, ~3tbsp olive oil, 4-5 tbsp lemon juice, and – heavens forfend – about a half pint of water (300ml). I’ll add a good amount of salt, with cumin, coriander and chilli to taste (which should translate as “a lot”).
As for order – I add the tahineh, oil and lemon juice to the blender at the start. The chickpeas I microwave before adding, one can at a time. I usually find that 3 minutes a bowl does the trick, first 2 minutes, stir, and then another minute. It gets the chickpeas that much closer to being cooked, and allows for an easier blend.
After giving that a whir, moving things around in the blender with a fork if necessary, I’ll cook and add the second bowl, adding water and maybe a bit more lemon juice to keep things moving. The addition of the water, rather than more oil and tahineh, is something I stumbled on maybe a year or so ago. It gives the whole thing a much fluffier texture, rather than the dense paste you might get from Sabra or the like.
The tabouleh was an off-the cuff affair – two bushels of broad leaf parsley, a handful of fresh mint, one cup of bulgur (one cup dry – obviously has to be cooked before use), maybe nine or ten cherry tomatoes of a goodly size, 2 shallots. I threw in a carrot for a bit of colour, and swapped out the customary lettuce for cavolo nero, as that’s what we had available. Salt and pepper to taste, a good drizzle of olive oil, a few dashes of lemon juice and some cumin and awayyyy we gooo.
It’s a good thing that this was a light affair, as, on a whim, I picked up a bag of what was being sold as ‘Sagoo seeds’ when I was getting some of the other ingredients. No idea what they were, nor how to prepare them. Upon getting home and doing a bit of digging, it turns out that these were in fact Sago, something I am current with.
Sago is starch extracted from the pith of the Sago Palm (actually a cycad), endemic to Southeast Asia. It’s usually sold in a pearled form, a bit like tapioca – the starch of cassava, incidentally. The plentiful nature of the Sago Palm and the ease by which the material is harvested is of such note that Marx used it as an example in Das Kapital, in the chapter on Absolute and Relative Surplus Value, to underline the georaphically and historically situated nature of surplus value production. Chapter 16 of Volume 1, if you want to check it out (also, if you’re new to the blog, spoiler alert, I’m no liberal).
But, what does it taste like?
I used this recipe as a jumping-off point, doubling the amount of sago I was using, and, one would have thought, everything else accordingly. I found that, come the allotted time, there was still a goodly amount of water left in the pot, which I drained off. Maybe I ought to have taken note of that at the time, especially when I elected to double again the amount of coconut milk, using a whole 400ml can. This left me with plenty of liquid and my sago nearly spent – I added some more sago (you can see the uneven cook in the photo above), maybe another 1/4 cup, and allowed the mixture to cook down for about another 20 minutes – low heat, so as to avoid any sticking to the bottom of the pan.
I was hoping to get the sago pudding off ahead of the rest of the prep and popped into the fridge to cool before eating, but the situation didn’t quite play out that way. Had it still-warm, which may have determined what followed.
How did it taste? Upon first blush, with the appropriate 2 tbsp sugar, a bit of cinnamon, some mint? According to my wife, “tastes the way rubber gym mats smell.”
A heaping teaspoon of sugar directly to the bowl covered the most offensive aspects of the taste, but there was a definite hint of chlorine on the finish. It wasn’t too bad, come the end, and the texture was fun. As I mentioned, it’s a good thing the rest of the meal was light, because the sago pudding definitely wasn’t. Had just the one bowl, and I’ve been in some pain writing this up afterwards.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained!