Couscous: The Basics

  • What Ingredient: Couscous
  • Pronunciation: [koos-koos]
  • Etymology: Algerian for “nourishment”
  • Category: Semolina Grain
  • Location in grocery store: Near rice and pasta.

Couscous is a staple dish in North Africa and the Middle-East that originates back to the 13th century. Best described as a mix between rice and pasta, couscous feels like large grains of sand and is the golden color of pasta noodles.

This grain can take on spicy seasoning or can be subtle with sweetness. Couscous dishes are served both cool or warm. Typically you will find the dish flavored by meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit, or nuts.

There are several traditional types of this grain: Israeli, Lebanese or Moroccan. Couscous offered at the grocery store is commonly the instant kind which, luckily for us, cooks very quickly.

Cooking the instant kind resembles making rice or oatmeal. The grains absorb boiling liquid (water, milk or a flavored stock) and fluff up in no time. This is a great option for college students looking for a filling, inexpensive, and simple dinner. At the store you can find instant and pre-seasoned couscous that can be eaten on its own or as a side dish to some chicken or veggies.

The traditional couscous is cooked in a couscousiere, which is a two-pot contraction where a stew cooks in the bottom pot and the couscous is steamed in the top pot from the heat rising from the stew. No need to invest in one of these, though.
Now that you know a little background on the North African/Middle-Eastern grain, couscous, you are now prepared to make the dish for yourself. Later this week I’ll post a couple of recipe ideas for what you can do with couscous yourself!

12 thoughts on “Couscous: The Basics

  1. Coucous has been one of my favorite staples when I crave good carbs. I make it with all sorts of veggies sauteed prior to cooking the couscous and cook the couscous in whatever I have sauteed. Excellent grain and so tasty…..sprinkle roasted pine nuts on when you serve it too. Love it!

  2. Pingback: Couscous: Recipes | Gourmet Gab

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