Couscous and quinoa are two separate things, don’t mix them up. Even their makeup is not identical. Couscous is a North African staple, particularly in Moroccan cuisine.
It is very easy to make and in many households, it serves as an alternative to everyday foods like rice, quinoa, and noodles. Couscous can be a very simple or complex dish depending on how you want it.
Couscous is like tiny pasta, it is made from semolina and durum. Its small size makes sure it gets done super fast. But the size of the couscous depends on the variety and there are at least 3 varieties of the couscous out there. There are various ways you can enjoy couscous even if you haven’t heard of it before.
What does couscous taste like? Like other kinds of pasta, couscous doesn’t have one specific flavor or taste to it. It is not as bland as rice because it has a little bit of nuttiness. But basically, plain couscous has a plain subtle flavor that is almost not noticeable. This is what makes it perfect.
Couscous can absorb the flavor of anything that it is paired with. If couscous is mixed and eaten with other ingredients, you can even remember what it originally tasted like when it was still plain.
Couscous and quinoa are different entities even though they have visual similarities. Quinoa packs more flavor than couscous. Let’s take a look at how it benefits the body in terms of nutritional value.
Nutritional Benefits of Couscous
Couscous is not on the same level as rice or barley. It is more in the region of pasta so it doesn’t offer the same nutrition value as foods in that class. Couscous does have some nutritional value to offer the human body.
The most important nutrient in couscous is selenium. This is because selenium is an important nutrient with a lot of health benefits. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are well known for their ability to protect the cells in the human body from free radical damage.
Selenium also repairs damaged cells and possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It also plays a role in thyroid health and keeps the thyroid gland functioning properly, as it should.
The selenium present in couscous can also help to reduce LDL cholesterol, increase heart health, and lower the risk of heart diseases by relieving oxidative stress, and keeping inflammation away from the blood vessels in the heart. It might seem like selenium is the only nutritional value couscous has to offer, but that is all the body needs.
Selenium can give your immune system a boost and keep everyday illnesses away. Selenium can reduce oxidative stress by doing this, it automatically increases the strength of your immune system. It also facilitates the regeneration of Vitamin C and E. These two vitamins are immune system boosters.
Aside from giving your immune system a boost, selenium can lower your risk of getting cancer. Studies have shown that people with high selenium blood levels are less likely to get cancer. So, if couscous is part of your everyday diet, you would be doing yourself some good by keeping cancer away.
Culinary Uses of Couscous
Couscous absorbs the flavor of whatever it is paired with, so its versatility is unrivaled. Couscous can be used in salads or as a side dish to a much bigger meal. It can even be added to a soup. Exciting right? Couscous is just like a blank slate when it comes to flavors.
When couscous is plain, you can hardly pin down any flavor to it. There is no limit to how far you can go when pairing flavors with couscous, you can try different levels of sweet to hot and spicy. Anything you can think of would probably work.
Couscous is very easy to prepare and you can have it ready in an instant. All you need is water that is already seasoned then, leave it to boil, kill the heat and add the couscous. Just leave the couscous in there for like 5 minutes so that it can get hydrated. Making couscous traditionally requires the use of a couscoussier. This is a special pot that would help you get the couscous in the right texture every time.
Couscous can be used in various dishes and recipes, for example, you can try the vegan couscous stuffed bell peppers, couscous with onions and raisins, or Israeli couscous risotto with parmesan and spinach.
Where Does Couscous Originate From? How Do You Procure It?
The word “couscous” originates from the Berber language. It is a staple food in Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Tunisia, Morocco, and Israel. The Berber meaning of “couscous” translates into well formed, well rounded, or well rolled.
This awesome dish first came up around the 13th or 14th century among the indigenous Berbers of Algeria and Morocco. This was sometime around the end of the Zirid Dynasty. A food historian Lucie Bolens believes that the origin of couscous dates even farther than the 13th century. There have been recorded recipes that state how couscous can be prepared since the 13th century.
Couscous is not contained to its place of origin, it is considered to be an international food. If you visit any grocery store, just check through their pasta or rice section it should be nestled there.
Is Couscous Supposed to Be Chewy?
No, it is not supposed to be chewy. If your couscous is chewy, it could be because you didn’t leave it to sit in the hot water for long enough. The granules of couscous are tiny and do not need much cooking time, but you need to let them capture moisture and get hydrated. If your couscous is chewy, then it is probably undercooked.
Facts You Don’t Know About Couscous
- Couscous is known by alternative names in some parts of the world. For example, it is known as Kuskus or Cuscus in some places.
- In some regions of the world, couscous is made from farina or ground barley, or pearl millet.
- The couscous eaten in Mauritania is different from the one eaten in the remaining part of North Africa. It is made with large wheat grains and is darker than the normal couscous.