Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Israeli couscous

As promised in the previous post, here's some Israeli couscous. Raw

and cooked.

And as a bed for my chicken tagine with chickpeas.

Like Moroccan couscous, Israeli or middle eastern couscous--or Maftoul, as the package above reads on its English flipside--is not a grain but a pasta. Unlike Moroccan couscous, it's big enough to retain a bit of bite when it's cooked. It's one of my favorite starches and it should have become mainstream American food by now.


Blogger Tokkan Kozo said...

I had some Israeli couscous that some folks at the Co-Op convinced me I needed to buy just sitting around. Your post convinced me that it was high time I cook it up. So I made a veggie tagine (broccoli, chick peas, squash) and the couscous... mighty tasty! How do you cook your Israeli couscous? Any special tricks?

12:12 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

I thought I might not get away with this tease. Ok, here's how you cook it:

The best way is no different from a rice pilaf. Heat up a frying pan and then pour in a tbs or so of olive oil. Get it nice and hot and then toss in a cup of Israeli couscous. Stir like this over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Then add 1.5 cups of tasty chicken or other stock and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce to simmer, and leave it over low heat for 15 minutes. Kill the heat and let it sit, uncovered, at least 5 more minutes (I left mine for about 20 minutes). Fluff with a fork and serve.

According to some sources, during its vogue in upscale restaurants a few years back chefs cooked it in the style of risotto, i.e., in an uncovered pan, using regular additions of stock by the half cup, stirring "constantly." I've never tried this because I believe this method is a waste of stock whether you're making rice or anything else. Most of it evaporates.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Tokkan Kozo said...

That’s pretty straightforward. I sautéed some onions and garlic before adding the couscous and then, into the broth, added, a bay leaf, a cinnamon stick, and turmeric. Speaking of turmeric, do you have any tips for getting the yellow stains it leaves on everything? And in addition to tagine, what are other favorite dishes with it?

12:46 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

TK: you have outdone me. Now you must start a blog.

I don't know how to clean turmeric stains, but I am very fond of this book which might contain the answer.

As for dishes with Israeli couscous, my summer veggies would have been nice. Curries might work, Thai or Indian. I'll keep thinking.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Tokkan Kozo said...

I spend enough time reading your blog. Having a blog of my own would mean officially throwing in the towel at writing a dissertation.

It was my first Israeli couscous experiene and I'm excited to have another go at it. Mmmm, curries...

2:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this looks delicious --just wanted to let you know, though, that the arabic on the package says it's actually moroccan. sorry to sound nitpicky --just thought you'd like to know.

12:23 PM  
Blogger mzn said...

Thanks for the comment, anonymous. If you're still there, can you tell me the best way to differentiate linguistically between little and big couscouses?

1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a good question ... I did a bit of "research" (meaning I did some Google-ing), and it turns out that Maftoul, as your package says, may be what the larger couscous is called. It's also the word Jordanians (and Palestinians, I believe) use for couscous. So perhaps if you find maftoul written on a package, you can assume it's the larger kind? Maybe someone else out there knows.
I also discovered that the company "Ziyad" where your maftoul/couscous is from is Syrian, via Chicago.

3:04 PM  

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