11/02/2013 20:50

Couscous, also known as Kuskus, Keskesu or Kuskusi. Couscous originated in Northern Africa, mainly Morocco. Couscous is popular through the Mediterranean and Middle East.

Couscous is a form of pasta made of durum wheat semolina that is formed into grains or beads of various sizes. Couscous is very handy to have in the pantry - it's so quick and easy to prepare. It can be eaten alone, flavoured or plain, warm or cold, as a side dish or dessert. Couscous makes an excellent vegetarian meal.

Couscous doesn't have a lot of flavour on its own, but it works well as a base for vegetable or meat dishes. It also mixes beautifully into salads and can be flavoured with herbs like coriander, basil or mint.  Spices -  cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cumin, allspice, saffron. It can be even studded with dried and fresh fruits, also nuts - almonds, raisins, mangoes, apricots. Couscous also makes an ideal stuffing for peppers, aubergines, and more.

Traditional couscous production by hand takes a lot of time and effort. The grains are steamed several times to reach the proper consistency. The traditional North African method to cook couscous is to use a steamer called a 'kiskas' in Arabic or 'couscoussière' in French.  A couscoussière is a cooking vessel which consists of two parts – An aromatic stew is cooked in the bottom part, and the steam which escapes upwards through holes in the top pan cooks the couscous in the top chamber,  infusing it with the aromas of the stew.

We now have 'instant' couscous, which has been pre-steamed then dried so you just only need to add hot water or stock.

Basic recipe ~ Just place 250g of couscous in a bowl. Pour 300ml of boiling water over the couscous plus 1 tbsp olive oil. Stir well, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Separate and fluff the grains with a fork before serving.


Lemon Couscous
Makes a good salad base in the Summer months, with chopped tomato, cucumber and red pepper added. Lemon couscous goes very well with baked Mackerel too.

Serves 4

200g couscous
juice & zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp olive oil
grind of black pepper
boiling water - enough to cover the couscous

Place the couscous in a large bowl, pour over enough boiling water to cover. Stir in the oil, a good grind of pepper, lemon juice and zest. Cover with clear film and leave for 5 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff up with a fork to separate the grains, before serving.

Enjoy a Chicken Tagine served with Couscous