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      RECIPE TITLE " Couscous (North Africa)"
    recipe from Africa Cookbook Copyright © 1998 by Jessica B. Harris

    yieldsServes 4 time --- difficulty easy

    Couscous is the quintessential North African starch. It is not a grain but a pasta, traditionally made by rolling it into small pellets of differing size and drying it in the sun. Today, couscous is made in factories. But artisanal couscous is still made in many places and is much prized by connoisseurs. There are many brands of couscous. Some can be prepared by simply adding water. The taste of these brands as opposed to that of a true steamed couscous is indescribable. Learn how to prepare this simple North African staple; it requires very little special equipment. Later you may find that you want a couscoussiere, but you can make do with a sieve, some cheesecloth or a clean dish towel, and a saucepan that will fit under the sieve.


    2 pounds couscous
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 cups water
    1 tablespoon butter
    2 branches fresh thyme
    1/2 cup dark raisins, plumped

    Africa Cookbook
    Africa Cookbook One-of-a kind culinary & cultural tour thru 200+ traditional & contemporary recipes from the whole of Africa.


    Pour the couscous into a large plate. Rub your hands with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and rub the couscous through your hands so that each pellet is covered with the oil. Drizzle on 2 cups of the water, continuing to roll the couscous, separating the grains to aerate them and remove any clumps. Allow the couscous to rest for 15 minutes, then repeat the process with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. After the couscous has rested for the second time, place it in a sieve on top of a saucepan, or in the top part of a couscoussiere. Wrap the join with a clean dish towel and steam the couscous, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes. Usually the couscous is cooked atop the bubbling stew that will be served over it. This impregnates the couscous with its flavors. If there is no stew, fill the saucepan with water and cook the couscous. When it is cooked, spread the couscous on a platter and allow it to cool. Sprinkle it with the remaining 1 cup of water and fluff the pellets with a fork. Replace the couscous in the sieve and steam for an additional 10 minutes.

    When ready to serve, melt the butter with the thyme, skim off the milk solids, and pour the butter over the couscous. Add the raisins, fluff with a fork, and serve mounded on a heated platter.

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