Couscous are tiny balls of dried dough, made from durum wheat semolina. Semolina is a course flour, ground from durum wheat. Durum wheat is a type of hard wheat, with a pale yellow endosperm, used to make pasta. So both pasta and couscous are made from Durum wheat.
Couscous is traditionally cooked by steaming and served like rice. It can be served hot or cold. Properly steamed couscous is light and fluffy and pleasant to eat.
Couscous is a staple food throughout North Africa in countries like Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Libya, Egypt and from Chad to Senegal and eastern Arab countries.
The couscous sold in western supermarkets (instant couscous) has been pre-steamed and dried and is rehydrated by adding 1.5 cups of boiling water or stock to one cup couscous and letting it soak, covered for about 5 minutes. It’s much easier to prepare than the traditional one.
Couscous can also be made from other grains. Barley couscous is known as abelbul, maize couscous (abaddaz), Millet couscous (Sorghum bicolor), Pearl millet couscous (Pennisetum glaucum; syn: P. americanum). (The Penguin Companion to Food)
The size of the couscous grains is variable. The standard size is 2 mm diameter and is called seksu or kuskusu, the ultra fine one is 1 mm diameter (seffa or mesfuf) and the larger one is 3 mm diameter (Berkukes or mhammsa). The larger grains are usually steamed and then thrown into the stew to finish off the cooking process. (The Penguin Companion to Food)
How is couscous made?
Couscous is made from durum wheat semolina (a course flour milled from durum wheat). Traditionally they use freshly ground whole durum wheat.
Traditionally, semolina is sprinkled with cold salted water and then rolled with the hand to from small pellets. The small pellets are sprinkled with dry flour to keep them separate and then passed through a sieve to separate the small ones that don’t meet the required size. The smaller ones undergo the same process of wetting with cold salted water, rolling into pellets and sprinkling with dry flour until all the grains are used up. The formed pellets are dried in the sun and stored. The process of couscous production is now mechanized, but traditionally several women come together to share this laborious process of couscous making.
How to Cook Coucous
In North Africa, couscous is steamed in a traditional steamer called Taseksut or couscoussier (French).
Meat or vegetable stew is cooked in the bottom pot and couscous is placed in the top pot and covered. The lid has several holes around the edge to allow steam to escape. As the stew bubbles in the lower pot, the steam cooks the couscous and the flavour from the stew infuses into the couscous.
Couscous can be steamed over stew and used as you would rice, or steamed over water and then flavoured with milk or yoghurt.
How to Serve Couscous
Couscous is a staple food like rice so it’s generally served with vegetables or stews/curries made from all kinds of meat including chicken, lamb, mutton, fish, seafood or camel meat.
Couscous can also be made into a dessert. Pale fluffy couscous is sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served with flavoured milk or buttermilk.
In Egypt it’s eaten as a dessert. Fluffy couscous is prepared with butter , cinnamon, raisins and topped with cream.
Couscous is also eaten in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.
How to Store Couscous
Once dried, couscous can be kept for months or years.
myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: December 12, 2018