Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Couscous is a small-grained pasta (made of millet or semolina, grain diameter is 1-2 mm) popular in North Africa and the Middle East. When cooked it has a texture somewhere between American grits and Italian risotto. "Couscous" can also refer to the overall dish made with the pasta served under a meat and vegetable stew. The dish is a staple throughout the Mediterranean and is served as foreign cuisine in many other countries.

Couscous is generally made by pouring the couscous grains into boiling water, adding some vegetable oil and stirring. After swelling for a few minutes, the couscous is ready for consumption. This can only be done with precooked couscous that is easily bought in the west, if one tries to boil it raw the grains will clump toghether.

The traditional North African method is to use a couscoussiere. The base is a tall metal pot shaped rather like an oil jar. In it meat and vegetables are cooked in a stew. On top of the base a steamer sits where the couscous is steamed. The lid to the steamer has holes around its edge so that steam can escape.

There are also recipes from Brazil that use boiled couscous molded into timbale with other ingredients.