Couscous is like bread in North African countries. Dozens of years ago, when my grandparents lived in Tripoli and Tunis, it was made each Friday and every Tuesday. It was the base for a special Friday evening (Shabbat) and every week, there was a different stew or a soup that goes with it. BTW, On Tuesdays, they used to make it because the bakeries were closed and no fresh bread could be bought.
When I grow up, Couscous was made by my mom and two grandmothers every Friday and everyone loved it. As I mentioned, it was served with a stew or a soup, but along that, many cooked and raw salads were served and everyone was adding from each salad to his Couscous plate while eating. It was a very rich weekly dinner that celebrated the beginning of the weekend (Shabbat). I’ve encountered instant Couscous at adulthood and I have to say that it is only a distant relative of the real thing, it is less fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth texture. It is probably similar to the differences between dry and fresh pasta – you can REALLY feel it. So every time I make Couscous, I don’t even think about the instant version.
In future posts, I will most definitely post recipes for many salads, stews, soups and vegan-meatballs that go well with Couscous. At the bottom of this post, yo will find a recipe for Tirshi salad that is originally from Libia and is a staple salad when you eat the Couscous in this region of the Mediterranean.
Before you start making Couscous you have to buy some kitchen gadgets 🙂
Saw few in Amazon, here is one.
The holes of the Sieve should be between 2mm-3mm for best results.
Couscous can be done without the Sieve (in a non traditional – our own family member invention that works quite well), but you will need a mixer like this:
Or like this:
ok, now we should be ready to start….
2 lbs of Farina (Not semolina – which is used to make pasta dough. however in the UK, it is called semolina), also called Creamy wheat or Cream of wheat (http://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Organic-24-Ounce/dp/B004VLVQ4I/)
1/4 Cup canola oil.
2 TBS of fine salt
3 cups of water.
1. Fill (the bottom part of) the Couscous pot util about a 1/3 of its volume with water.
You can add two potatoes and a piece of a squash or a pumpkin in the water for later creating a special cooked salad called Tirshi (bonus recipe at the end of this post).
2. Take a paper towel, wet it with a little water and put it on the rims of the post. We would like that no steam will escape during the steaming process. Traditionally, people put farina dough on the rims to seal the pot. However, I find it to be very messy and wet paper towels work as well.
3. Now, put the top part, Turn on the stove on medium flame or heat and put the lid on. We have time now to prepare the Farina while we wait for steam to come out of the top part.
4. In a large bowl, put 2lbs of Farina with the 2 TBS of salt. mix.
5. Add one cup of water and mix with a whisk. Traditionally, you will do it with your hands but, again, I found the whisk to be less messy and works as well.
6. Now, you should pass the Farina through the Sieve. If you don’t have a Couscous Sieve, use a mixer to create finer grains.
7. With your hands, push the Farina grains through the Sieve. Making sure all the Farina had passed through the Sieve.
7. After the Farina had passed through the Sieve, the end result will be very fine grains. Add 1/2 cup of oil, and mix well with your hands.
Now, the put should be already steaming:
8. Add the Farina to the steamer, cover with the lid and let it steam for 45 minutes.
9. After 45 minutes, pour the Couscous into a big Bowl, add another cup of water and using a whisk, mix very well so the extra water will be absorbed evenly. Those who like very fine grains can pass the Couscous through the Sieve again, but this is optional, the end result will be just fine without this extra process.
Here is the Couscous after I added another cup of water and used the Whisk to mix it well in.
10. Transfer the Couscous to the steaming pot again! the couscous seems to be ready now, but it is not. It needs more steaming to become a real melt-in-your-mouth fluff 🙂 This time, the volume of the Couscous will probably reach the top of the top part of the pot, as it had absorbed a lot of water during the first steaming process. Cover with the lid and steam for additional 45 minutes. Make sure that the paper towel is steal sealing well the two parts of the pot.
10. Transfer the Couscous into a large bowl, add another cup of water and whisk with a whisk.
That’s it. 🙂 Might sound complicated with many steps, but once you get used to it, it is quite a simple process. Usually, while the Couscous is steaming, I will prepare a stew or a soup and many more Salads, so in about a couple of hours, I will have the Couscous, the Stew and at least 4-5 salads that will go well with the couscous at Friday evening dinner.
Bonus Recipe – Tirshi
Remember I told you to add some potatoes and squash (works the best with Kabocha squash or butternut squash) to the Couscous pot? Besides adding some flavor to the steams that flavors the Couscous a little, We will use these to make the stable salad for Couscous called Tirshi.
Juice from 1 big lemon
3 garlic cloves, grated or minced.
2 TBS Paprika
1 TBS salt
1. Put the lemon juice, Garlic, Paprika and Salt into a Bowl.
2. Add the potatoes and squash to the bowl and using a spoon mush it together.
3. The end result consistency should be more like a paste and less like a mushed potato, so if it is too dry, add some of the water the potatoes and Squash were cooking in.
4. Here is the final texture. Serve along with the Couscous.