Couscous or kuskus as it is known in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt (pronounced /ˈkʊskʊs/ or /ˈkuːskuːs/ in the United Kingdom and only the latter in the United States; Arabic: كسكس, Berber Seksu, called maftoul in Lebanon and Palestine and Hebrew: קוסקוס in Hebrew) is a dish consisting of spherical granules made by rolling and shaping moistened semolina wheat (sweet corn in Brazil) and then coating them with finely ground wheat flour. The finished granules are about one millimetre in diameter before cooking. The Levantine variant, popular also in Israel, is slightly more than twice the diameter and made of hard wheat instead of semolina. Traditional couscous requires considerable preparation time and is usually steamed. In many places, a more-processed, quick-cook couscous is available and is particularly valued for its short preparation time.
Boiling and stirring can reduce quick-cooking couscous to a sticky, starchy mush. Like pasta, couscous does not have much of a flavor itself. Thus couscous dishes are made with flavored stocks, herbs, and spices, with vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, and/or meat added or used as a topping.
Most packaged couscous is considered the instant variety and will cook very quickly off the stove by absorbing a boiling liquid. However, authentic couscous (roughly-ground hard durum wheat) will require significantly more time and a good steaming vessel called a couscoussiére.
Couscous Cooking Tips
• Be sure to identify which type of couscous you have purchased (instant or traditional) to properly plan cooking time.
• Couscous may also be cooked like rice. Heat butter, add couscous and stir to coat, add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to lowest setting, cover and cook (no peeking!) until liquid is absorbed. Fluff to separate.
• If you lack a steamer, a heat-proof colander inside a stockpot will work fine. Line the colander with cheesecloth if the holes are too big.
• When using the long traditional method of steaming couscous, covering the pot is not recommended as the condensation can drip onto the grains and make the couscous mushy.
• As well as a carbohydrate-laden side dish, couscous may also be eaten as a porridge, in salads, or in desserts.
• To double or triple the volume of instant couscous, avoid the hot water method given on the box and take the time to slowly steam it.
• Cooked couscous should be eaten within a couple of days. It may be frozen up to three months.
• 1 cup dry couscous = 2-1/2 cups cooked.
• As a side dish, plan on 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked couscous per person.
Source: homecooking.about.com & wikipedia
Ingredients list for chicken couscous recipe
- One whole chicken
- Smen or ghee
- Coriander cilantro
- Spices and water
How to make the chicken couscous recipe
Mix salt pepper turmeric ginger mace nutmeg cinnamon cardamon pods
To make smen get unsalted butter, warm it to room temperature, wash it with cold water to drain off excess milk, add one teaspoon of salt to every cup of butter, store in clean glass containers and let set in a dark cool place, not the fridge, for at last 2 months or more.
Chop the onion and cilantro
Mix the spices together with the coriander and pour over the chicken to marinade for three hours or overnight.
You need a steamer or cousocousier, or use a sieve over a saucepan with a lid on top of the sieve. You might need to put a cloth over the holes if they are too big for the couscous grain.
Mix water with 2 tbs of salt and pour over the raw couscous. Let it soak in for half an hour then fluff it up with your hands.
Slice two onions, add cinnamon, sugar and orange blossom water. Add raisons and cook until tender, around 25 minutes.
Fluff up the cooled couscous using smen and hands, then steam it again, 2 or 3 times until done.
To serve, place the couscous on a dish, make a hole in the middle and place the chicken and onions in the middle.