Couscous is a traditional North African dish. It is the national dish of the North African countries of the Maghreb which include Algiers, Morocco, and Tunisia. It is low in calories and high in fiber and proteins.
You can have couscous as a side dish, a snack, or an entire meal. Its popularity spread through neighboring countries and it is now recognized as a popular dish all over the world.
There are lots of variations to the way this dish could be served. While some like it as is, it is often served with lamb chops or chicken pieces in North Africa.
The first reference to this dish is made in a 13thcentury Hispano-Muslin cookbook. This old and well-loved staple of North Africa quickly found its way to the rest of the world.
The good part of it is that the preparation continues to safeguard its traditional essence and mostly uses the same classic ingredients of old times.
If you were to buy couscous from a store, you are most likely to pick a Moroccan preparation which has very tiny grains and can be cooked very quickly. This is the one that we will be using for our recipe today as well.
The two other types of Couscous are Israeli and Lebanese. Israeli couscous, also known as pearl couscous is bigger than the tiny Moroccan couscous.
It takes longer to cook and is usually the size of small pearls. Lebanese couscous is the biggest in size, almost the same as chickpeas. It calls for very slow cooking.Print
- 250g couscous
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- Water to soak the couscous
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium cucumber, finely chopped
- 2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
- ½ a bunch of coriander
- ½ a bunch of flat leafed parsley
- A handful of mint leaves
- 1 tbsp. tomato puree
- Juice of half a lemon
- Olive oil for dressing
- 1 chilly, finely chopped (optional)
- Take a big bowl and add couscous to it. Season with salt and pepper and add the cumin and paprika. Pour water into the bowl to just about cover the couscous.
- All the water will be absorbed by the couscous, making it soft and fluffy. It takes about 5 minutes for the water to be absorbed.
- While you are waiting for your couscous to absorb the water, you can chop the veggies and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- After 5 minutes or once the couscous has completely absorbed the water, add the tomato puree to it and mix it well.
- Add all the finely chopped veggies and leaves.
- Add the lemon juice and drizzle some olive oil for dressing.
- Mix everything well and season with salt and pepper. If you feel that the zesty taste of the lemon juice is not enough, then you can add some more lemon juice.
If you use a packet of instant couscous, then the packet will include the amount of water that should be added to the couscous. Use the instructions for water measurement.