What is couscous?
What is couscous?. Joy Skipper / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Couscous (pronounced "KOOS-koos") is a dish made from tiny granules of durum wheat. The couscous grains are then prepared by steaming them until they have a light, fluffy consistency.

(Scroll down to see some easy couscous recipes.)

Couscous is closely related to pasta, as durum wheat, ground into semolina flour is the same type of wheat that is most commonly used for making pasta.

Couscous originated in North Africa, where it is traditionally prepared as part of a meat or vegetable stew seasoned with cumin.

Today, couscous is found in many cuisines, including much of the Middle East and various Mediterranean cuisines, as well as the United States and western European countries such as France and the U.K.

Israeli couscous is a variation on the traditional couscous which is made of larger, smoother, spherical granules. Israeli couscous has a slightly chewier texture than regular couscous.

Cooking Couscous: The traditional technique for preparing couscous involves steaming the granules multiple times in a tall pot called a couscousière. Most commercially available couscous is an instant form which has been steamed and then dried.

Preparing instant couscous is quick and easy — the dried couscous is added to a pot of boiling water or stock, the pot is then covered and the water is absorbed into the couscous in about five minutes.

Couscous Recipes: There are any number of couscous recipes that are essentially variations on this technique, and they can be savory or slightly sweet, depending on the ingredients that are added.

It can be prepared with lemon, toasted almonds, peas, raisins or currants, even apples or apricots. Couscous is frequently used in salads. See the links below for some easy couscous recipes.

Common Misspelling: Cous cous