Silver Star Meat Market: Israeli Couscous – The Bite

Silver Star Meat Market's Israeli Couscous salad

Welcome back to The Bite, Sheepshead Bites’ weekly column where we explore the foodstuffs of Sheepshead Bay. Each week we check out a different offering from one of the many restaurants, delis, food carts, bakeries, butchers, fish mongers, or grocers in our neighborhood. If it’s edible, we’ll take a bite.

I’m going to let you know a little secret. I’m not too upset about Pathmark’s demise. Oh, I’m upset about the jobs lost and the increase in commercial vacancies on Nostrand Avenue, but as a loss to the neighborhood’s food community – meh. Better, cheaper and much more interesting food offerings were always found across the street.

Take a meander with me over to Silver Star Meat Market and check out what’s been keeping the locals flocking here for years; the meat market with butchers at your service, a fish monger and one of the best deli counters in the neighborhood; complete with store made salads, pickles and sandwiches.

Today we try out one of the Silver Star’s salads; Israeli couscous with curry. It’s $2.99 per pound and available in the take out section.

Israeli couscous is not couscous at all, but a small round pasta made of hard-wheat flour. Originally developed at Israel’s Prime Minister Ben-Gurion’s request to the Osem food company to create a rice-substitute, as rice was a staple for many Mizrahi immigrants during Israel’s austerity period, Israeli couscous is often referred to as “Ben-Gurion’s rice,” or Ptitim.

In Israel, this is a food for children; but here in the U.S. it’s trendy fare. It can be found in top restaurants and gourmet markets all over this country.

Israeli couscous can by made in a myriad of ways, but at Silver Star, they give it an almost Indian treatment with curry, raisins and red peppers and served cold.

On first bite, you are immediately taken to the sub-continent with a quick smack of curry. Be prepared; this will wake up your mouth. Tempered with sweet raisins, carrots and sweet red peppers, this couscous dances across your tongue, treating all your taste sensations to a whirl on the dance floor. Sweet, a little a sour from vinegar, a little salty and just a touch of bitter from the curry makes me think this is something out of Bollywood not Brooklyn.

There are two bland ingredients in the salad. The first are Chick peas. Frankly, I don’t know why they’re here. They add nothing to this salad. The other is the Israeli couscous itself. Luckily, these balls of bland pasta take on just enough of the spicy dressing to be interesting, and when you break into one with your teeth, the  flour of the couscous coats your tongue with a necessary cooling agent counteracting the heat of the curry dressing. This is good stuff for the adventurous heat tolerant foodie. Give me more!

Silver Star Meat Market, 3838 Nostrand Avenue, (718) 934-8520

Silver Star Meats/Deli on Urbanspoon