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It may look like rice, but it’s actually a kind of pasta. And as simple as their appearance, learning how to cook couscous is simple as well.
A staple food in North African countries and a popular dish in the Middle East, couscous are starting to gain popularity in other parts of the world. Traditionally prepared steamed, there also pre-packaged couscous available which is prepared by simply boiling it in water. Once it has boiled, it is covered, removed from heat and left to sit, and after five minutes, it is ready to serve. Couscous is very versatile as it can be served in a number of ways; as a side dish, as salads, as soups or stews, as a dessert when mixed with fruit and nuts, or even as cakes. There are numerous ways of how to cook couscous, and they don’t take very long to prepare.
Taking ten minutes to cook, traditional Moroccan couscous is prepared by first boiling one cup of orange juice (or any other fruit juice) and a half cup of water in a small pot. In another pan, one teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/4 cup each of raisins, silvered almonds and pitted, chopped dates are sautéed for two minutes in half a cup of water. The boiled juice and one cup of cooked instant couscous are mixed in afterwards, and the dish is ready.
Couscous salad is typically prepared one day before serving and is of course served cold. Preparation starts by boiling two cups of water, two tablespoons of vegetable oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric, cinnamon and chopped ginger in a 1 quart saucepan, then stirred in two cups couscous and 1/2 cup of raisins. The heat is turned off; the pan is covered and left to stand for about fifteen minutes. Afterwards, the mixture is moved to a large mixing bowl, along with a cup of chopped zucchini, 1/2 cup of chopped carrots, 1/2 of chopped green onions, 1/4 cup each of chopped red and green bell peppers, and a fifteen ounce can of drained garbanzo beans. Meanwhile, three tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 to 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and some salt are blended together in a small bowl. This is then poured on the couscous salad, which is mixed well to break up clumps, covered up and refrigerated overnight, eight hours at the least. The salad is best served lined with lettuce leaves and sprinkled with a half cup of sliced almonds.
For dessert, here’s how to cook couscous chocolate cream cake. First, 2 to 1/4 cups of water, 1/4 cup of cocoa, 1 to 1/4 cup of sucanat (unrefined cane sugar) and one cup of couscous are mixed together in a saucepan to simmer for ten to fifteen minutes until it thickens. A tablespoon of vanilla is then added into the mix and stirred. The resulting mixture would then be spread into a nine-inch springform pan with a removable side. Next, ten ounces of chocolate chips are to be melted in a double boiler, or if such isn’t readily on hand, simmer water in a saucepan and place the chips in a metal bowl held above the steam. The chocolate is then mixed in a blender, first with tofu, and later with maple syrup. This would then be poured onto the couscous, which is refrigerated for about two hours before serving.
Couscous has proven itself a miracle meal by virtue of the many ways it can be prepared. When one knows how to cook couscous, it is like knowing how to cook an entire banquet.
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