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what is Couscous?

Couscous is the national dish of Morocco. It consists of a mound of steamed pellets of semolina flour ringed with stewed meats and vegetables.

When did you
first try Couscous?

I ate my first one in an unbaked brick farmhouse outside Tangiers on the historic date of July 10, 1956. It was the day Morocco regained its independence after nearly half a century under European domination.

Everywhere Moroccans were celebrating with unrestrained joy and my host slaughtered one of his fatted lambs for the occasion. For the festive meal, he clad himself in his best djellaba, the traditional long-sleeved, hooded robe of his Berber ancestors. His wife was equally radiant in her hand-embroidered, head-to-toe

What is
a couscousier?

Moroccans generally prepare Couscous in a special cooking vessel called a couscousier. It resembles an oversized, bulbous double boiler, except that the bottom of the upper pot (which holds the semolina pellets) is perforated. The holes allow the rising steam from the simmering stew in the lower pot to cook and flavor the pellets above.

Sometimes Moroccans make Couscous without the couscousier. Since few cooks beyond North Africa own this cooking utensil (and would not want to invest in one for infrequent use), I give the non-couscousier method in the accompanying recipe.

If you do have a genuine couscousier, use it, as I do. Do not, however, concoct an ersatz one by suspending a metal colander over a stockpot - this oft-suggested method seldom produces satisfactory results.



Famous peasant dishes

Arroz Con Pollo  Spain
Cassoulet  France
Cha Chiang Mein  China
Couscous  Morocco
Houskove Knedliky  Czech Republic
Huevos Rancheros  Mexico
Nasi Goreng  Indonesia
Osso Buco  Italy
Oyako Donburi  Japan
Roghan Josh  India
Tom Yam Kung  Thailand
Vatapa  Brazil
Yalanci Dolma  Turkey

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