Couscous

Couscous

Couscous

By
From
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Serves
4
Photographer
Alan Benson

Though couscous is the national dish of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, it is also popular in Egypt. The other North African nations serve steaming mounds of couscous with their flavoursome stews; in Egypt it is generally prepared as a dessert, and only occasionally makes an appearance with stews.

While couscous is now widely available, I have given directions for making your own. Allow plenty of time and give yourself lots of space. Once you have mastered the art, increase the ingredients proportionately to make a larger quantity and store in an airtight container.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
125g fine semolina
35-50g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Place the semolina in a large round baking dish or a basin with a flat base. Form into a circle, leaving the centre clear.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons cold water into the centre, flick the semolina into the water with your fingers, then work with the palm of your hand in a circular motion to moisten the semolina evenly.
  3. Mix the flour with the salt and sprinkle half of this over the semolina. Work it into the semolina, again using the palm of your hand and circular movements. Add a little more water and flour so that small, round grains about the size of sesame seeds begin to form. The aim is to coat the semolina grains with flour.
  4. Turn the mixture into a wide, medium-meshed wire sieve (a wooden-framed sieve is ideal), set over a large cloth. Sieve the grains and return them from the cloth to the dish or basin, leaving any large lumps in the sieve. The smaller grains in the sieve are the couscous; tip these into a bowl.
  5. Work a little more flour and water into the dish or basin contents. Sieve, sort and work again until the ingredients are formed into pellets of couscous, adding more flour and water as required. No more than 50 g flour and 85 ml water should be used per 125 g semolina.
  6. Line the top section of a couscousier or a colander with a piece of muslin (cheesecloth) and spread the couscous in it evenly.
  7. Bring about 750 ml water to the boil in the bottom section of the couscousier or a deep saucepan, then place the container with the couscous on top. If using a colander that does not fit snugly, drape a cloth around the edge so that steam does not escape. The container with the couscous must not touch the water. Cover the couscous with a lid and steam for 10 minutes.
  8. Turn the couscous onto a cloth and break up any lumps with your fingers. Spread it out and leave for several hours in an airy place to dry thoroughly.
  9. Store in an airtight container and use as directed in recipes.
Tags:
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Tess
Mallos
Middle Eastern
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