Couscous is made, not grown. It originally was a masterful piece of know-how when centuries ago North African women blended semolina flour with just the right amount of moisture and handling technique to create tiny, pasta-like granules. Couscous is a pasta, however it is used like a grain. It now cooks almost instantly.
Couscous is recorded as far back as the 13th century, and it is a staple today in North Africa, the Middle East, parts of Italy and Brazil. A few cultures make couscous from barley, millet or cornmeal. Today the production process has been mechanized, and a very acceptable version of instant is readily available.
Couscous is a healthy grain-based product with glycemic load lower than pasta. It also contains up to twice as many minerals than pasta and is richer in vitamins.
Ways to serve couscous:
The couscous in most Western supermarkets is instant, already pre-steamed and dried. Generally, use 1.5 measures of liquid to 1 measure of dry couscous (see package for exact directions.) Pour the boiling liquid, over the couscous, add a pat of butter, cover tightly for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.
Toss the warm couscous with your favorite herbs, seeds, cheeses, veggies, nuts or fruits. Serve warm or cooled.
Across the world different cultures tend to enjoy their couscous different ways:
- In Africa they liked to use it with meats and vegetables and in stews.
- Up around Turkey, they mixed it mostly with Harrissa, a hot condiment.
- In Europe, they tended to sweeten it and enjoy it as a dessert.
- In North America, where couscous is relatively new, we are tending to use it during the meal accented with savory items.
The Food Network has several couscous recipes.