Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes

Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes

What a beautiful dish! Couscous is soaked with saffron and mixed with barberries and feta to form wonderful patties that are cooked until crisp and utterly delicious. They have an addictive flavour of mint and saffron. You will love them.

The patties are quite easy to make – relatively easy for an Ottolenghi recipe. The couscous is soaked, the barberries infused, the mixture made and the patties cooked.

Couscous is the tiny hand-rolled semolina pasta of North Africa that immigrants introduced to Israel and the Middle East. Semolina is made from the first milling of the heart of the durum wheat kernel, and so is halfway between wheat and flour.

These patties have a sweet and salty edge which make them very popular. It is the rice flour and yoghurt that makes them crispy.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column. We have modified this recipe to eliminate the eggs.

Similar dishes include Broad Bean Burgers, Falafel, and Vegetable Cutlets.

Browse all of our Couscous dishes and all of our Patty recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes

Crispy Couscous and Saffron Cakes

how many are you feeding? This makes about 20 cakes so halve the recipe if you are not feeding a small army.

ingredients
0.5 tspn saffron threads
275g couscous
30g barberries (available from Afghan and Middle Eastern groceries)
4 Tblspn caster sugar
140g Greek or Desi (Indian) yoghurt
2-4 Tblspn chickpea flour
2 tspn rice flour
20g fresh chives or mint, chopped
100g feta, crumbled into 1cm chunks
sea salt and black pepper
about 4 Tblspn ghee

method
Put the saffron in a large bowl and pour over 500ml of boiling water. Leave to infuse for a few minutes, then add the couscous. Stir with a fork, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the barberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Add 120ml water, bring to a light simmer, stir to dissolve the sugar and remove from the heat. Once cool, drain the barberries and dry on kitchen paper.

Fluff up the couscous with a fork, then add the yoghurt, chives, feta, barberries, sea salt to taste and some black pepper. Mix well, then add between 2 and 4 Tblspn chickpea flour, mixing well, until it forms a consistency that will hold together in small cakes. Then shape into firm round patties about 1.5cm thick; press and compact them well, so they don’t disintegrate.

Heat two Tblspn of ghee in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and fry the patties in batches, adding more ghee as needed. Cook each batch for around 5 – 7 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden-brown. Transfer to kitchen paper. Serve at once, while they’re still warm.

recipe notes and alternatives
Serve these with tomato chutney or relish or a chilli sauce, and a green salad.

If you want, add fresh herbs such as dill or parsley to the mix.

If you can’t get barberries, use currants, in which case don’t soak them in sugar syrup, but rather in cold lemon juice for 20 minutes.

These can be made with rice instead of couscous.

No feta, never fear. I have made these adding ricotta instead. I have even added halved cherry bocconcini. These miss the salty-tart flavour of feta, but are good in their own right.

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