Cooking Couscous

Couscous Defined | Cooking Couscous

The three basic techniques for cooking grains with hot liquid are boiling, absorption, and steaming, which are perhaps the most popular methods for cooking all whole grains. Several forms of wheat cook quickly with these methods and are used for a variety of popular dishes. Couscous is a wheat product that has long been a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and it has become very popular in other regions of the world.

Couscous Defined

Couscous is produced from cracked durum wheat that has been steamed and allowed to dry. It has a pellet like appearance and it is able to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients that are added to it. Couscous expands to become a light and fluffy mass when cooked. Couscous that is produced from refined durum wheat is yellow in color and has a mild flavor, while whole durum wheat couscous has a tan or buff color and a more pronounced flavor.

As a very popular addition to North African dishes, couscous is often served as an accompaniment to stews, meats, vegetables and other savory dishes that include sauces or gravy. In addition, it can be served as a hot cereal topped with sugar or syrup.

Cooking Couscous

Couscous is one of the most popular Middle Eastern dishes made with wheat. It is very easy to prepare, and the variations in the other ingredients that are commonly added to the basic recipe are quite numerous. Described below is a quick method for preparing this Middle Eastern staple.


  • 1½ cups chicken stock

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt to taste

  • 1 cup of couscous


A basic recipe of couscous is a very simple dish to prepare. To begin, simply pour 1½ to 1¾ cups of liquid into a medium sized saucepan. The liquid can be water or vegetable stock or meat stock. Using stock adds more flavor to the dish.

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt to the liquid and bring it to a boil.
Add 1 cup of couscous to the boiling liquid.
Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let it stand for about 6 minutes. Do not lift the lid until the required time has elapsed.
Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve. This recipe yields about 3 one-cup servings.
An endless variety of other ingredients may be added to the couscous to provide more flavor. Chopped dried fruit or chopped nuts are popular additions, as well as various seasonings, such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, black pepper, garlic, or the zest of citrus fruit.

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