The first time I tried couscous was in Algers, Algeria. (No, you really, I mean really, don’t want to go there, trust me.) At that stage I was a bit nonplussed by this funny looking grainy starch. Little did I know that a few years down the line I will eat it on a very regular basis and enjoy it too. Let’s learn more about couscous.
Couscous comes from the Middle East and is widely enjoyed in Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestinian territories. Each teeny weeny granule is 1mm in diameter before cooking. It comprises rolled, shaped and moistened semolina wheat which is then covered with finely ground wheat flour.
The couscous we find in shops today are of the quick-cook variety, whereas the traditional version needs a longer cooking time. If you were wondering how to serve it, regard it as rice. So anything that resembles a stew will go nicely with it. Not only is it virtually fat-free (dieters take note!) and quick to prepare but this versatile starch can be eaten warm or cold and even used in desserts!
Seriously, what is there not to love about couscous?
Spiced Butternut, Chickpea, Red Onion & Raisin Couscous
- 1 butternut, seeds removed, cut into 2.5cm (1 in) cubes
- 2 red onions, cut into 8 wedges each
- 5ml (1 tsp) ground ginger
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 7.5ml (1½ tsp) ground cinnamon
- 10ml (2 tsp) brown sugar
- a pinch of salt
- 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
- a dash of Tabasco sauce
- 400g (14 oz) chickpeas, drained
- 100g (3½ oz) raisins, soaked in boiling water for a few minutes, then drained
- 210g (7 oz) couscous
- 300ml (10 fl oz) vegetable stock
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Put the butternut and onions in a roasting tin. Mix together the spices, sugar, salt, oil and Tabasco and use about half of this mixture to baste the vegetables. Cover with foil and roast for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and add the chickpeas and raisins, together with the remaining spice mixture, then return to the oven for a further 20-25 minutes, until caramelised.
- Put the couscous in a heatproof bowl. Pour the stock over, cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Fluff up the couscous with a fork, divide evenly among plates and pile the spiced vegetables on top of the couscous and serve hot.
- Instead of using canned chickpeas you can soak 200g (7 oz) of dried chickpeas overnight and boil them for about an hour or so until they are tender. Simply follow the rest of the recipe.
- If you’re not on a diet, you can use a larger quantity of couscous. Just don’t forget to increase the quantity of stock used too.
Serving Size 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 6.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Sodium 376 mg
Total Carbohydrates 40.8 g
Dietary Fiber 4.7 g
Sugars 12.2 g
Protein 5.7 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.