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What is cous cous

21 mayo, 2021

The call couscous, cous-cous, couscous or kuskusús, is a traditional dish of North African cuisine, based on durum wheat semolina, and sometimes barley or green wheat, the latter in Tunisia especially.

History of cous cous

The French discovered this delicacy in the time of Charles X, during the conquest of Algeria.

There are still doubts about the original meaning of the word couscous, taken from the Berber word “to the kuskus“. According to some, it designates the amount of food that a bird takes with its beak and kneads into tiny balls to feed its young, others consider it a Frenchification of the expression “rac keskés“(Finely grind) and explain that it is a phonetic deviation from the terms koskos, keuscas, koskosú and kuskús, used in different regions of Africa to designate a clay or esparto container provided with holes, which adapts to the mouth from the kettle and containing water and broth; container in which semolina is put to be steamed. That name has been given later to the preparation made in that vessel.

The cous cous in different countries

The cous cous, in modern Arabic it is called “t’aam“It is the national dish of the three Moghreb countries (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia).

It is served as a second course, after the mechuí in Algeria, and the tajines in Morocco. It is eaten by modeling small “grain” balls with your fingers, which are immediately put into your mouth.

Although, in all three countries, the basic elements are the same, semolina and broth or loam, the ingredients vary. In Algeria, couscous is accompanied by chickpeas, broad beans, a large number of legumes and vegetables (artichokes, courgettes, potatoes, aubergines, thistles, fennel, peas) and sometimes meat.

The mesfuf, couscous prepared with fresh beans and raisins, it is reserved for dawn meals in the month of Ramadan; eaten by drinking buttermilkleben) or with curdled milk (raib).

The couscous Saharan is served without vegetables or broth. In Tunisia, it can be done with rabbit, pellet or ram. There, chickpeas are de rigueur.

The most original formula is that of couscous of fish (sea bream or grouper), but there is also a couscous in which the meat, fish and legumes are replaced by grapes, raisins and almonds, pistachios, dates and walnuts, the whole is served with fresh and sweetened milk.

In Morocco it is usually accompanied by mutton or chicken and, in general, it is served with two broths: one to soak the semolina, and the other, seasoned with red chilli, to taste it. The many ingredients (turnips, zucchini, raisins, chickpeas, onions) are cooked for a very long time, which reduces them to a kind of confit. Another Moroccan recipe is the cous cous with sugar and cinnamon.

Whatever the interpretations that each country gives to this dish, its preparation is based on two constants, without which it loses its authenticity; On the one hand, the quality of the grains, which essentially lies in the art of hand kneading and cooking the semolina, and on the other hand (the couscous salty, is the most widespread), the flavor of the meat, which is largely due to the legumes and spices (ras-al-hanut especially) gathered in the broth.

Directly to the Palate | Cous cous with roasted artichoke vinaigrette. Prescription
Directly to the Palate | Takeaway. Couscous salad with three peppers, and Bologna mortadella pita