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Originated from North Africa, couscous is a staple in the North African diet and its popularity has spread worldwide.

To make couscous from scratch, one can rub semolina flour between moistened hands until the flour combines with just enough water to form hundreds of tiny grains. It requires a very touch or the grains will combine to form a mushy glob. After forming the tiny grains, they are dried and steamed over a stew in a special pot called a couscoussière. Rags dipped in flour paste will be placed on the top of the couscoussière to seal it, and the cook will have to rub the grains to ensure that they remain separate during the steaming process.

Fortunately, it is much easier to make instant couscous! Packages of couscous are readily available at grocery stores. These grains have already been steamed and dried again before they are packaged. Making instant couscous is a much easier task. The grains need only to be soaked in boiling water or broth for five to 10 minutes until they swell. Then, fluff them lightly with a fork and they are ready to be served.

On its own, couscous doesn’t have much flavor but it does absorb the flavor of dishes that accompany it. It can be topped with meat or vegetable stews, and can be cooked with broth and mixed with herbs like basil, mint or cilantro.  It can also be mixed into salads or topped with fruits like apricots and raisins.


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