Posts Tagged ‘Ragu’

imageRam and I have been clearing out the pantry and using up items rarely used. And one of them being couscous. My experience with couscous is quite limited. I bought it with the hope of doing some salads or dishes but never got around to it. But every time I think of couscous I still recall the couscous soaked in ragout which I had in “Ragu” which was sublime.

I first scoured the internet for ragout recipes but I didn’t have ingredients for most of them. I lost my patience and said you know what I am just going to let my creativity out loose.

It was so yummy I just had to write this down. And fairly healthy too. Come on what can beat that! Flavours and healthy food in the same sentence, how often does one hear that!


2-3 red onions chopped long
1 head of garlic
2 tsp chilli flakes
4 tomatoes roughly chopped
2-3 tsp of capers
1/4 pumpkin chopped into small cubes
1-2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 pinch of nutmeg powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
1 tbsp of honey/ 1 tbsp of brown sugar
4 cups of stock
Salt to taste
2 tbsp olive oil

For the couscous:
2 cups couscous
2.5 cups hot stock

Heat olive oil in the pan. Throw in the chilli flakes, garlic and onion and sweat it down until it starts to brown. Add your cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin and salt. Then throw in your capers and tomatoes. Let the tomatoes shrink in the heat and then add your pumpkin and give it a good old toss. After a couple of minutes or so, add your sugar/honey and then pour in your stock. Close with a lid, turn down the heat to medium and let the mixture stew nicely for a good 30-40 minutes with the occasional stir.

This is the same concept as tagine. When something is cooked with a closed lid the flavours expand exponentially. The ragout takes on the vapours, aromas, its own juices heightening the flavour to extents unimaginable. The explosion of flavours is something undeniable even for a fussy eater.

When that’s stewing on, add 2 cups of couscous to a saucepan/bowl. Add the 2.5 cups of stock. Use cling wrap to close the couscous and let it sit for 5 minutes. After this time, remove cling warp, using a fork fluff out the couscous. Just be mindful different couscous have different cooking instructions. So cook the couscous according to your packet instructions.

When serving, portion out some couscous in a pasta bowl. Ladle out that gorgeous ragout and here comes yet another surprise. Some of my avocados were starting to ripen, so for garnish I just shaved off the avos on top and the creaminess of avocados just worked. I don’t know how, somehow everything gelled and made sense. Were it not for remembering portion control I would have gone back for seconds or thirds.

What better way to end your Sunday than a hearty home cooked meal that takes your taste buds around the world.

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Ragu - Pt Chevalier

It has been ages since we went to a fine dining restaurant. This weekend I actually wanted to drive down to our favourite haunt Mecca in Mission Bay for some Coffee and Baklavas. But life as we all know is unpredictable and takes different turns.

While taking the motorway, Ram asked -“Hey do you want to may be try out the new joint in Pt Chevalier- “Ragu”?. I remembered vaguely Ram talking about the review written by the popular food critic Nici Wickes on NZ Herald. I said -“Well why not?”

We changed course, and it sure didn’t leave us disappointed.

When we were approaching the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the brick and cobbled path leading up to the door. Next came the signage, a picture display of a rustic iron saucepan with the word “ragu” on it. And I thought well that’s unassuming. I turned towards the door, I didn’t know what I actually expected. It was one of those doors without automatic swing hinges. Plain double wooden door like that of a really old hut. And I raised my eyebrows at the sight of it. We entered. We were welcomed with a friendly smile and asked whether we would like to start off with the bar and move to the table. And we thought lets start off with some pre-dinner drinks.

We took our seats at the bar stools. One of the restaurant staff gave us a wine list and left us to go over it. I was in no mood for alcohol tonight. And I thought I’ll ask for something non-alcoholic. When the staff came to take our wine order, I asked “what do you have that’s non alcoholic?”. And he immediately rattled off some a list of fruit juices and out came the last one a Hawkes Bay Ginger Beer. He said he did have Bundaberg too, but would highly recommend the Hawkes Bay Ginger Beer. I said I’ll go with his suggestion. Ram changed his mind and settled for the same as well.

While waiting for our drinks, I looked around at the interior of Ragu. The Interiors were warm and friendly, bordering on rustic with a splash of modern ensemble. The lighting was dim but just right, which allowed us to see enough of the people and food about to be served. To add to the charm, the waiter even lit tea lights in tiny candle holders which I though was cute.

Our ginger beer came and the waiter left us with the menu. I saw that the menu was split into two. Small Plate and Large Plate. I took my first swig of the Ginger Beer, the words ‘Smooth’ and ‘Delicious’ popped into my head. The fizz was just right and not overpowering and chilled to perfection. This Ginger Beer literally blew me away. Finest one I have ever tasted. To give you a parallel, it enjoys the position of a Glenfiddich in the Whisky League.

Then we placed our order from the Small Plate menu. We  ordered Smoky Babaghanoush with Ciabatta and Mushroom and Goat Cheese Risotto balls with Truffle Aioli. The babaghanoush was smooth and smoky living up to its name. I am yet to find a term so beautiful to describe the Mushroom and Goat Cheese Risotto balls with the truffle aioli. It was rich and buttery and the risotto balls were delectable, soft in the inside and crisp on the outside. What made it even more mouth-watering was the truffle aioli. The flavour was intense and nothing like I have tried before. And this dish definitely leaves you wanting more.

We then progressed to the main course, Ram ordered a Grilled Vegetable and Buffalo Mozzarella Ragu on gnochetti pasta. I chose a Marinated Chicken & roasted winter vegetables with Israeli couscous and Kasundi. The portions were huge and sumptuous. Both dishes were tasty however lacked the oomph that was present in the entrée.  We were so full that we took a rain check on dessert. But we might just pop in for more later.

On the whole, my verdict is Ragu is a very nice mediterranean-tapas style bar restaurant, offering a comfortable and cosy ambience, wih a friendly customer service. And if you are looking for somewhere new to go, this would be just the place you were waiting to try.

I rate them with a hearty 3.5/5. Hope the new kids on the block do well for themselves.

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