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Couscous recipe the Israeli way

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Last Updated on July 27, 2021

Easiest couscous recipe. Best way to make couscous so that it comes out fluffy and tasty.

couscous recipe
Couscous served the traditional way with a hearty vegetable soup (Image credit: Unsplash)

Couscous – small semolina flakes, which come packaged in an airtight bag, are one of the most convenient solutions for a healthy, quick and delicious meal. Combine couscous with a traditional Moroccan vegetable soup, lamb, fish, chicken or other meat and you’re all set.  Serve it savory or sweeten with apricots, prunes, raisins or sultanas.  Add some crunch with pine-, cashew- or pistachio-nuts.

Types of couscous

Before we get going with our couscous recipe, you’ll find 4 different types of couscous on the supermarket shelves.

Fine grain couscous: The finest and most delicate type of couscous especially suitable for making the traditional Eastern couscous salad Tabbouleh (with mint, parsley, tomatoes, lemon and olive oil).  You can also use the fine couscous for baking a perfect semolina cake (Basbousa) or semolina biscuits.  

Medium grain couscous: The classic couscous, is best suited for making the traditional  couscous soup with vegetables, chicken, meat or fish.

Coarse grain couscous: Large grains that are suitable for making stuffing or if you prefer traditional couscous this way.

Whole grain couscous: As its name implies, whole grain couscous is made of whole wheat which means it is more rich in fiber and vitamins.

Couscous recipe. How to prepare delicious Couscous?

Instant couscous, just like a bulgur (burghul) does not really require cooking.  Soak it in boiling hot water and within minutes you’ll be have a ready-to-eat meal.

No matter what couscous you choose, you will find an appropriate recipe on the package. These are the general quantities and instructions.

  • For every cup of couscous – use 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons oil (traditional to use olive oil) –
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A little black pepper

Preparing the couscous

  1. In a large bowl, mix the couscous, oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Pour in the boiling water and cover the bowl with a plate or lid.
  3. Wait 5 minutes, open and lightly stir the couscous with a fork.
  4. Return the plate and wait another 7-10 minutes.
  5. Gently open and gently stir the grain with a fork so that it separates
  6. Leave open for 2 minutes and serve with vegetable soup, meat, chicken or as you prefer.

Couscous Cooking Tips

Replacing the salt with instant chicken/beef stock powder is the biggest couscous cheat.

If you prefer a spicy meal add a small quantity of chili flakes or else eat couscous with Harissa paste – a traditional Tunisian paste made with hot red peppers and a variety of spices.

The vegetables in the soup are traditionally cut in large chunks and pieces. Pumpkin, carrots, marrow and potatoes are our favorites.  Chickpeas are a must-have addition to the sauce.  Soak your own or buy a can of pre-soaked chickpeas in the supermarket.

If your couscous is a little too wet, then a few minutes in the microwave on high power should dry it out and plump it up.

Hand rolled homemade couscous

While it is not hard to make your own couscous from scratch, using semolina flour, it is labor intensive. You’ll need to moisten the flour, sift the granules, cook it in a couscoussiere (steamer) with a cooking time of about 30 minutes.

How to make Israeli couscous

couscous recipe israeli couscous ptitim
Israeli couscous

Israeli couscous refers to a toasted pasta shaped like rice grains, little balls, or multiple other shapes. Israeli couscous was developed in the 1950’s when rice was scarce.

Israeli couscous was originally nicknamed ‘Ben Gurion’s Rice’.  During the 1950’s – Israel’s austerity period, the first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion approached one of Israel’s largest food companies,  and asked them to quickly devise a wheat-based substitute to rice.  The result was Israeli couscous.  In Israel, these days, this pasta is called “Ptitim” – the Hebrew word for flakes.

Originally made to look like rice (similar to Italian orzo), ptitim became so popular that soon the company started to manufacture little balls of pasta which later became known as Israeli couscous.

Betayavon! (Hebrew for Bon-apetite)

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