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Food from the World: Couscous

I’ve lived all my life in a lie: couscous is not an Indian food! Excuse my ignorance, but as soon as I found out that this dish is in fact something else than what it pretends to be I ran to tell you guys about it. Actually, I blame no one but myself for my foolishness but I won’t forgive myself if I don’t help people discover more about this delicious food.

Couscous is the type of food that doesn’t require a lot of preparation and it was easily consumed both by nomadic and agricultural peoples. The name of couscous doesn’t focus particularly on this type of grain. The name can also be given to other dishes that are made of rice, barley or maize. But enough with the chit chat. Let’s talk serious couscous business!

5 Intriguing Facts About Couscous

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1. Genuine couscous is made from Durum wheat grains. The tradition comes from North Africa and it implies a long process to obtain good couscous. Originally this was made by hand when the bigger grains of semolina were placed in water and then broken in smaller clumps. The final result was supposed to represent refined grains that could be cooked with ease.

2. The origin of couscous is not quite clear. Some researchers claim that the Berbers were preparing couscous even in the earlier times (238 b.c.e). However, the most common legend revolves around the 13th century when the Berbers introduced the Moors from the Iberian Peninsula to this new type of grain.

3. Couscous is usually cooked in a special pot named couscous steamer. This is made out of 2 elements: a pan perforated at the bottom (the grain is placed here) and a globular pot which is placed underneath and filled with stew that is used to cook the granules.

4. The grains are normally prepared by women and most often during family celebrations (end of Ramadan, wedding or birthday celebrations). In many religions and civilizations, the couscous is associated with notions of fertility, abundance, fidelity and the blessing of God.

5. Although it is known as a main dish, in some locations like Egypt, couscous is eaten as a dessert. It is prepared with cinnamon, sugar, butter or nuts and it receives some lovely cream on top.

However, the following recipe will not be of a dessert but of a side dish. Don’t worry, there is nothing complicated about it and it can be combined with various other foods. Take a look!

Couscous with Herbs

1 medium onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 box couscous
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup mint
salt and pepper

How to prepare?

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1. Cook the onion in one tablespoon of oil over moderate heat. Stir when needed and cook it for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking it for 30 seconds.

2. Add the water and the broth bringing everything to a boil.

3. Stir in the couscous and then remove the pot from the heat. Let the grains stay for 5 minutes with the lid on. Then stir with a wooden spoon adding the herbs, the rest of the oil and the salt and pepper. It’s this simple!

You can combine this type of couscous with chicken meat, salads, steak or barbeque. It’s delicious! Give it a try!

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