Friday, June 13, 2008

Kizartma and Couscous

So often, a restaurant dish is my primary inspiration to head into the kitchen and try something new. This is especially true of cuisines that are new to me, some from countries that I would have trouble locating on a map. These experiments often result in happy discoveries of "keeper" recipes and new additions to the pantry. Today's recipe was inspired by an appetizer that I enjoyed at a local Turkish restaurant, Aya Sofia. Kizartma is a delicious dish of fried vegetables (how can you go wrong?) placed in a stack. Eggplant, potato, zucchini and peppers were included in the dish I ate at the restaurant, and I tried to replicate it at home. It certainly made for a delicious summer lunch.



1 large potato
1 zucchini
1 large eggplant
olive oil for shallow frying
salt and pepper to season
Cut all the vegetables into half-inch rounds. Fry in olive oil in a cast iron skillet until golden brown on each side and cooked all the way through, sprinkling salt and pepper to taste. Stack up the vegetables. The kizartma could be served with either a warm tomato sauce or a cold yogurt sauce. I made both- just to give them a try.

Tomato sauce: Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Simmer crushed tomatoes in this mixture for 10-12 minutes. Add salt to taste. Spike with some red pepper flakes if desired.

Yogurt sauce: Mix thick yogurt with slivers of fresh mint, a minced garlic clove and salt to taste.

I served the kizartma with a simple sweet-savory side dish of pearl couscous, also called Israeli couscous or toasted couscous. Now, I don't know if these two dishes really are made for each other, but each is delicious and could be matched with other Middle-Eastern or Mediterranean dishes to make a meal.

Cinnamon-scented Pearl Couscous


1 C pearl couscous
2 C vegetable stock
1 small onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 stick cinnamon
Handful of dried cranberries, chopped

1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Saute the onion, garlic and cinnamon stick until fragrant and translucent.
2. Add the couscous and toast it for a couple of minutes.
3. Add the stock, bring the couscous to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and the couscous is tender.
4. Stir in the cranberries, fish out and discard the cinnamon stick and serve.

These dishes go to Siri (girl, you are on an event-hosting roll!) who is AWED by Middle-Eastern cuisine this month.

Other Middle-East-inspired recipes on this blog:
Madhur Jaffrey's Lubia Polo (this dish is a must-try when green beans are in season this summer).
Roasted Garlic Hummus (a tasty way to snack while getting protein and fiber!)
Two older posts...I haven't made these dishes for ages but I really should-
Vegetable Moussaka

*** *** ***

Knitting Update-

My summer vest is ready! Look, Ma, I made an actual wearable garment :D
It is the Accidentally On-Purpose Drop-Stitch Vest from the book Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, in azure, a cheerful and summery shade of blue.

Another project- a quick and fun knit- Grr washcloth from Knitty. A lion with a big ol' loopy mane. Mine is cross-eyed and has a crooked smile. He won't bite!



  1. That picture looks great - wish I could take a bite. Your summer vest is smashing Nupur! I also liked the vine pattern going through on your washcloth (prev. post) :)

  2. I like dish like Kizartma.. simple and tasty. Initially I find it little bland in tastes but now i enjoy it throughly :D .
    You work looks so nice. When I make something by my own it gives me immense sense of satisfaction.

  3. Those vegetables! I'm going to fire up my grill this weekend and grill a stack of things. Your recipe looks amazing!

  4. your knitting is amazing, nupur - you're a very fast learner! love the lion - he's adorable! and the couscous looks delicious!

  5. Wow, Nupur! That vest is beautiful. Chanel or Versace would sell that for hundreds! Nice job!!

  6. wow, Kizartma look so delicious! Never heard of it! lovely pictures as usual. And your knitting projects are outstanding, Nupur! Way to go!

    BTW, yesterday I prepared your Kati Rolls for dinner and those were a hit! Thanks for the wonderful recipe dear! I have submitted that for the Tasted & Tested event at Zlamushka's. Here is the link of the recipe.

    Have a great weekend.

  7. Thats a nice looking vest you have there Nupur. Both the dishes look yummy. Where do you get Pearl Couscous?? In the pasta section? Have to try those. Have a great weekend.

  8. I love your lion face!! He's so cute! And a nice colorful mane he has too! :)Loved the color of the vest and was it really "accidentally on purpose" ?! :) Both dishes look great!

  9. oh I like the cinnamon couscous. And Nupur I am really enjoying your knitting saga. I cannot knit or anything like that but your vest is so cool!

  10. these middle eastern names are so funny and hard to pronounce Nupur - Kizartma looks delish! and I never had pearl couscous. just had the normal one!

    Thanks for sending along to AWED!


  11. Wondering if the dish is eyecatching or summer vest? Dish and ur work is simply superb, love the blue color :)

  12. That pic is gorgeous and I love the blue of your vest

  13. Cute stuff! and i mean including the food! Couscous is my favorite-gotta' try this and kizartma, simple and swesome flavors await :)

  14. Your couscous dish looks wonderful, Nupur! I made a couscous salad the other day, but the couscous I used looks very different from this one. I 'm going to google and check out the difference(s) between the two kinds. The cranberries must lend a nice tartness to the dish.
    I love your Grr washcloth! I think you shoud have another blog now just for all these lovely creations.:)My fav so far are the 2 gorgeous ones you made for the raffle.

  15. Both of those dishes look so lovely. I'm especially partial to couscous with dried fruit; the sweetness isn't overwhelming, but just enough to tease your palate.

  16. fantastic vest. I am sure you re gonna look fabulous in it. And that Kittie wash cloth is really cute :-) I am so proud of you not to have given up, Nup :-)

  17. Hi, I found you via last summer's post about Friendship Bread! Your food looks beautiful, and I'm enjoying your knitting pictures, too. I linked to your Friendship Bread post here, so you may have other visitors.

  18. Bravo on doing kizartma which is from the Turkish verb to fry. Eggplant is classic in summer and served with yogurt, plain or fancied up. My favorite is the long light green peppers. Slit the pointed end to allow breathing and fry in olive oil. They can be done in a grill if you want to avoid the oil. You want them to soften and get a little bit charred. Usually served at room temperature. In Turkey they would be already done and displayed on a platter in the salads/meze case. Stacking them I'm afraid I've never heard of. Have a good summer. Hoca

  19. Now seeing your vest makes me want to stop dreaming about knitting and actually take it up. Both your projects are lovely Nupur. Never heard of Kizartma but it looks like a dish I will definitely enjoy. I once had a something like that in a restaurant and the veggies were stacked a few layers high and it had a corny name like 'Leaning tower of Pisa/Veggies'.

  20. Nupur, the Kizartma looks very nutritious, so does the pearl c. The blue summer vest looks fashionably pretty! N lion's colorful mane ...simply fab..u have taken to knitting like a fish takes to water! Loved all ur work till date!!

  21. They look beautiful Nupur. Roasted Veggies is the best way to enjoy them and with the cooling yogurt and the tomato sauce simply delicious.

    Cool! Love the knitted summer vest.

  22. You finished the vest! Congratulations! It's beautiful Nupur - you must feel so proud to wear it!

    The lion dishcloth is adorable (I'm going to have to look at that pattern, I'm curious how the loops are done) and your dinner looks fantastic. What a simple and delicious idea for that Kizartma and your couscous is making my mouth water. I've had regular couscous, but never the larger Israeli variety - definitely something I need to try!

  23. babe, you are truly talented (not that i didn't know that already) ;) i absolutely love everything posted here and have been inspired to cook from it quite often now. maybe in a few years i'll knit as well!

    love, shoots :)

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  25. Hi Nupur....
    Good to see you doing so much of stuff(and guess I'm suffering from inferiority complex :D)
    Nice recipes with appetizing pics and refreshing and colorful knitting have got everything right here...
    Felt good to visit your blog...
    Happy blogging!

  26. The food looks good and so does the vest, but oh the wash cloth is darling!

  27. Your washcloth is SOOOOOOOOOOOO adorable, Nupur :-)

  28. that is a very pretty, chic vest. congratulations!!!

  29. thats such a cute vest :) and oops! i forgot to read thru ur recipe cuz i got distracted by the vest :D

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  31. Laavanya, Thanks :) I loved that vine pattern was a great way to learn to do lace-like designs.

    Pooja, Yes- sometimes the taste of vegetables without too many spices is a nice change. I agree with you, making something with one's own hands is a wonderful feeling :)

    vb, Grilling definitely would be a great way to get the best possible flavor from these juicy vegetables!

    Arundathi, Thank you- I thought the little lion was pretty cute too :D

    Jamie, LOL You know, the materials for the vest cost me around twelve dollars! I'm glad you like it; it really is a cute pattern.

    Uma, Thanks for trying the kati is one of our favorite recipes! I hope you have a lovely weekend too :)

    Cooks, I found the pearl couscous in the Middle-Eastern aisle of our international market. I don't know if you would find in the pasta section of a regular store, but I hope you manage to find it!

    Vani, Yes, the pattern is called "accidentally on purpose". The reason is that when one accidentally drops stitches while knitting, it results in a "ladder" (like the rips through stockings) and ruins the work. But in this case, stitches are dropped on purpose at strategic points to incorporate ladders right into the design. Clever designer!
    The lion should really have been made with a yellow/orange/brown yarn but I had only this on hand so I went ahead :)

    Meeta, Thanks :) Knitting saga is right...LOL I am having fun.

    Siri, Thank you for hosting. You will be busy with all those round-ups :)

    Cham, Thanks- I loved that shade of blue too :) It feels good to wear such shades in summer.

    Sandeepa, Thank you :)

    Musical, Yes- these really are simple and awesome flavors without too many ingredients!

    TBC, This pearl couscous is much much bigger than the usual. Actually, I read somewhere that it was invented by a food company only in the last few decades! Tastewise, it is quite chewy and tender and has quite a nice texture. Yes, the cranberries add a wonderful tart-sweet contrast.
    I'm glad you like the Grr washcloth- it was really fun to knit. I don't think I have the time for another blog for these so cooking and knitting will just have to share this space for now ;)

    Lydia, I love dried fruit in savory dishes too! I saw the pearl couscous recipe you posted recently- it looks delicious!

    Zlamushka, Why would I give up?! :D This is too much fun!

    Songbird, Glad you were able to find that recipe! Thank you for visiting, and welcome to my blog.

    Hoca, Thank you for your insights and tips! I am going to look for the green peppers and use them next time I make this. They really sound delicious the way you describe how to fry them.
    This is really a delicious dish for a summer get-together.
    Stacking them must be the restaurant's idea for a pretty presentation :)

    Anonymous, Stacking veggies is a popular concept among the restaurants, looks like! But stacks do look pretty :)

  32. Purnima, The kizartma is full of vegetables but does have quite a bit of oil. The pearl couscous is not bad either, but is not whole grain :)
    Thanks- I am surprising myself with how much I love knitting! Glad you like the little things I have made so far.

    Indosungod, I agree with you- roasting brings out such wonderful deep flavors in veggies. These are pan-fried but the result is pretty much the same.

    Cathy, I am sooo happy to wear the vest :) I wore it to the "knit in public" event yesterday and everyone admired it and I was thrilled to bits :D
    The lion cloth would be perfect for one of your cute nieces- the loops are fun to make. Very clever pattern. Some of your CSA box loot might make for a nice kizartma :)

    Shoots, LOL you have a busy job so knitting might have to take a back seat. Cooking, however, at least you can feed yourself with the results! How are things?

    Sands, Your URL is connecting to some weird site.

    FoodieFriend, Thank you!

    Bharti, Thanks :) I thought the lion was cute too :)

    Shammi, :D Thank you! He is pretty adorable but you need to teach me some embroidery so I can make his face look better!

    Bee, Thanks- glad you like it :)

    Nags, Thank you- knitting is distracting me from food too!

    Deepa, Your URL is linking to some advertising site.

  33. Hi, chanced upon ur blog just a few days back! LOVE IT! :)

    The dish looks awesome and the lion looks good too! Now Dale's going to be jealous for all the attention people are giving the lion !! :D

    Hey Dale, am here for ya! No one , even the KING OF THE FOREST can take you place!! :)

  34. oops, the prev comment was mine, Meera's! Frgot to mention my name!!

  35. Hi Nupur,

    I like the way you are inspired to replicate restaurant dishes in your own kitchen. I never thought of doing that, But now I will. Secondly I think I am getting too drawn into your knitting projects. I am seriously thinking of buying some wool and starting off. I am scared but I think I'll give it a go. Your work is amazing. Keep going . Lots of love to you.

  36. I don't know which to ooh and ahh over first -- the lovely, colorful lunch dishes or the lovely, colorful knitting! The kizartma is especially mouthwatering...

    Spinach raita looks gorgeous too, in previous post :)

  37. Hi nupur..have been following your posts for some time now and have enjoyed ur writing style, yummy recipes and loved your knitting too. There's an award waiting for you at my chk it out.

  38. Eeeeks, Nupur that last comment is by me Anupama and not Bharat. Bharat is my hubby. I think he had signed into his google account just before I started surfing and did not log out. So when I left a comment the computer just took the name of the person who was already signed in. I was zapped to see his name with my comment right now when I came to your blog. I mean Bharat getting interested in Knitting !!!! Oh god that will be the day.

  39. Your veggies look delicious! I haven't tried Aya Sophia yet and hope to check it out too. And the vest is very cute. Congrats on your first wearable item.

  40. I saw this post just as soon as you posted it... but my connection gave way as I commented... had pan roasted brinjal slices for lunch yesterday.

    Lovely vest. When do you start taking orders?

  41. you have one cool needle, Nupur!! :)

  42. Gorgeous! I love those stacks of fried vegetable rounds!

  43. Hi Nupur! Looks like you made yourself a very nice middle eastern lunch. I tried Israeli couscous recently and I found it more enjoyable than regular couscous.

    Your knitting skills seem to be coming along nicely!

  44. I LOVE the colors in the washcloth. If I do make something so beautiful on my life, I would frame it up and never use it as a washcloth :))
    It amazes me that every single post of yours makes me want to try the dish. I should have taken that job in Quincy after all!

  45. Meera, Welcome to One Hot Stove and thanks for stopping to say hi. Dale appreciates your support in the face of all this competition from knitted objects :D

    Anupama, If you have time, give it a go. You might really enjoy it!

    Linda, Thanks :) the spinach raita and kizartma are both perfect for this hot weather.

    Vandana, Thank you for the award!

    Lisa, Aya Sofia has quite a selection of vegetarian appetizers and I am sure you will find a few vegan selections too. We enjoyed the food very much, the one time we had dinner there.

    Raaga, Roasted/fried eggplant is just so delicious!

    Manali, Thanks :) two needles, actually ;)

    T. W. Barritt, They were completely delicious :)

    Bruno, I have to admit that I too prefer Israeli cousous to the regular tiny variety. Hope you are enjoying summer, Bruno!

    Priya, You might not be living nearby, but you know you can always come and visit :)
    I love the idea of functional knitted objects and firmly believe that stuff should be used and not framed :D

  46. I use my teeny creative brain so rarely that I prize them for life :)) I nearly bought some wool last night at Michael's Nupur, may be I will go back tonight...

  47. How could you go wrong with a stack of deep-fried veggies, indeed! Both dishes look wonderfully appetizing, Nupur, and I adore that vest and its beautiful blue.


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