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Index / Food and Beverages /
Couscous
Berber: seksu
Arabic: kuskusū



Cooked couscous.
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Cooked couscous. Photo: Rool Paap.

Dry couscous, ready for cooking.
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Dry couscous, ready for cooking.

Ready to serve, couscous with spices and lamp chops.
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Ready to serve, couscous with spices and lamp chops. Photo: Robin.

The most famous part of North African cuisine, used as the main ingredient in many dishes in much the same way as if it was rice. In shape, colour and texture it resembles rice.
Couscous is often referred to as Moroccan, but this is incorrect. It is equally a dish of Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, people of all countries may claim to be the home of couscous.
The term comes from Berber languages, where it is called seksou. It consists of small grains, the main ingredient of which is semolina.
Couscous is made in the homes, often with many women gathered together, producing large stocks of couscous.
It is made from 2 parts of semolina, 1 part of flour, salt and water. Some handfuls of semolina are put on a plate or on the ground, after which it is moistened with saltwater. What results is molded in the hand, as flour is added. Gradually small "grains" of couscous are separated.
After performing this process until the right size of the "grains" is achieved, a bit of oil is added. Then the couscous is ready to be used in dishes. Modern facilities have allowed storage of couscous for periods of several weeks.
The dishes made with couscous usually have some meat and plenty of vegetables. In Tunisia harissa is added to the couscous, making it hot, and red in colour.




By Tore Kjeilen