What Is Couscous

What is couscous? While the side dish has an odd sounding name, it is a simple dietary staple in many parts of the world. Common in countries of Northern Africa, the dish has grown in popularity and is served in many fine restaurants worldwide. What are some facts that you should know about couscous? 

Couscous is a pasta, not a rice. Because of the texture and pellet-like shape of couscous, many people falsely believe that it is a field grown crop such as rice. Couscous is actually pasta of sorts, traditionally made by simply mixing semolina flour with water until the proper consistency and texture is reached. During mixing and sifting, the tiny couscous “grains” are formed. 

Where can you buy couscous? In many parts of the world, couscous is made by hand. For convenience, couscous is commercially produced and readily available in most supermarkets. It can be found in the rice, grain or pasta sections and is even available in seasoned mixes and whole wheat or organic varieties.

What are the healthy benefits of couscous? Couscous is high in fiber, protein, B vitamins and niacin. Choosing a whole wheat couscous is higher in fiber and protein and choosing a plain couscous rather than a convenience mix offers its benefits without the products of processing, such as high sodium additives. 

How is couscous used? Traditionally, couscous is used as a base to a stew or is topped with meat and vegetables. Couscous is a versatile side dish, easily spiced and adapted to accompany fish and chicken as well pork or red meat dishes. Couscous is easily substituted for rice in a number of popular dishes and ethnic meals. Besides its use in side dishes, couscous often finds its way into sweetened desserts as well.

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