What is Israeli Couscous (Pearl Couscous)?

Israeli couscous is a type of toasted pasta shaped like small dense balls. In Israel it’s known as Ptitim or Ben-Gurion Rice, but outside Israel it’s marketed as Israeli couscous, Jerusalem Couscous or Pearl Couscous.

It was developed in Israel in the 1950’s by the Osem Food company at the request of the then Israeli Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, when there was a rice shortage. (WIKI)

Israeli Couscous

How is Israeli Couscous Made?

Israeli couscous is made by extruding dough made from hard wheat through a round mould then cutting the round shapes and toasting them. Toasting results in a nutty, chewy and hearty bite, even after cooking.

In Israel, other shapes are also made: for example those shaped like rice grains, rings, stars or heart shapes. It is also made from whole wheat flour or from spelt flour, for those who want to eat ‘healthy versions’.

Israeli couscous is not similar to North African couscous which is made from durum wheat semolina.

Nutrition Fact of Israeli Couscous

100g (3.5oz) Israeli Couscous provide 360 calories and contains the following:

  • Fat: 0.9g (saturated 0g, trans, 0)
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium: 2mg
  • Carbohydrate: 76g (sugar 0g, Fibre 0g);
  • Protein: 0g;
  • Recommended Daily Allowance. minerals (RDA): Iron 0% and Calcium (0%); Vitamins 0% (Bulk Barn)

How to Cook Israeli Couscous

Israeli couscous is cooked like rice. Heat some oil in a pot, add the couscous and fry about 2 minutes then add water, bring to the boil and simmer 10-12 minutes until the water is absorbed. The ratio is 1 cup couscous to about 400ml (1 2/3 cups) water.

Culinary use of Israeli Couscous

In Israel, it’s considered children’s food and is served to them plain or mixed with onion and tomato sauce.

Outside Israel, it’s used to make a variety of dishes, even in trendy restaurants. The grain is popular because it retains it’s shape and texture even after cooking and reheating.

It can be served as a side much like rice and pasta or cooked into risotto. It can be added to soups or stews or as an ingredient in pies or used as a stuffing.

It’s also used in salads.


Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

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