Morocco, Algeria, Liberia, Israel, Tunisia – Couscous


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by Yushra Mughal

ABOUT THE DISH

There are many dishes that have made its mark all around the world. These dishes are eaten everywhere and are loved the same. The dish which I am about to tell you about is also considered among those dishes. Couscous is an Maghrebi cuisine also known as a North African cuisine. It is a grain product made from semolina which is mixed with different spices and stew. Couscous then absorbs these stew and get a flaky rice type texture which is essential. Lastly the couscous is served with an protein. This protein varies from place to place as if you go different parts of the world they have their own style of couscous and if you visit many different African regions you will see that they are using proteins like chicken, lamb, beef etc. This is what makes this dish so great. It is unique everywhere and the flavor it produces also is impeccable. Not only the ingredients are different there but the style of cooking it is also different all around the world. In some African regions it is cooked in a steamer yet in some other parts it can be cooked simply as well. It is very demanding in the restaurants and it can be served as starters as well. It is a very old dish which goes back centuries. It may look easy but it is not. It is a very difficult dish to master and very easy to destroy. Sometimes the couscous can become mushy and can destroy your dish so you have to be careful while making it.

ORIGIN AND HISTORY

Like many other dishes the true origin of couscous is still unknown but there are many possibilities regarding when it could have been first made. In the Arabic cookbooks of the 14th century there are many mentions of dishes like couscous. An food Historian named Charles Perry wrote a book about couscous and mentioned in it that book that by looking at all those dishes in the Arabic cookbook we can make an assumption that couscous was first made in between the end of the 11th century and start of the 13th century. Another historian specified that it was made during the Hafsid era. There was also an Historian of the same time which wrote that he found three recipes in the Arabic cookbooks which resembled couscous. One of these books were called Kitab al-Wusla ila al-Habib and another one was called Kitab al tabikh .

Another food historian by the name of Clifford Wright says that couscous was first made in 12th century and it was made with barley and acorn flour. There are also many reports which say that there were utensils found in the tomb of the Berber ruler King Masinissa of the 3rd century. Researchers say that these utensils were same as those of today which are used to make couscous. This indicates how old this dish really is and also Masinissa was the one who united Algeria , Libya and Tunisia so this clearly shows that this dish originated in these Maghrebi countries.

VARIATIONS

There are many variations of couscous depending on the place where you are eating it. These different variations are as follows and along with its country.

  • ALGERIAN COUSCOUS: It consists of tomatoes , almonds , cinnamon , sugar and it is served at the end of the meal.
  • ISRAELI COUSCOUS : The couscous in Israel is crumby type and it is called p’titim. It is very different from the other ones.
  • TUNISIA COUSCOUS : In Tunisia the couscous is made with harissa paste and most of the time it is made with fish but other proteins are also used.
  • LIBYA COUSCOUS : In Libya lamb is mostly preferred but in some western parts of it camel is the way to go.
  • MAURITANIA COUSCOUS : It is cooked with lamb , beef and has big grains of wheat rather than small and has an incredible texture to this dish.

INGREDIENTS REQUIRED TO MAKE IT

  • Lamb steaks
  • Raw couscous 1 cup
  • Tomato paste 1 tsp
  • Harissa ½ tsp
  • Ras el hanout spice mix 2 tsp
  • Chicken bouillon powder 1 tsp
  • Honey 1 tbsp.
  • Tomato 1 (diced)
  • Almonds
  • Coriander leaves (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

STEPS TO MAKE IT

  • First we will make couscous.
  • In order to make it take a bowl and add some water in it.
  • Then add the Ras el hanout spice and the bouillon powder.
  • Also add the tomato paste and the harira.
  • Mix them well and add the raw couscous.
  • Add some more boiling water and also some butter in the bowl.
  • Mix everything and set the bowl aside so the couscous can absorb everything.
  • Once time is over take the bowl and mix everything again.
  • Add tomatoes after it.
  • Also add the chopped coriander and the almonds.
  • Mix everything and your couscous is ready.
  • Now it is time to cook your lamb.
  • Take a pan over a medium heat and add your lamb steaks on it.
  • Once cooked well take it off and start plating.
  • Add your couscous on a plate and add your lamb over it.
  • Your dish is ready. Enjoy

TIME NEEDED TO MAKE IT

PREPERATION TIME : 15 minutes
COOKING TIME :
20 minutes
TOTAL TIME :
35 minutes
YIELDS :
3-4 servings

NUTRITION FACTS

Calories 573 kCal
Total Fat
80g
Cholesterol 25mg
Total Carbohydrates
71g
Sugars
20g
Protein
31g
Sodium
70mg
Potassium
240mg

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