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Recipe: The Versatility and Global Appeal of Mali’s Couscous de Timbuktu

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Couscous de Timbuktu is a versatile and beloved North African dish people around the world enjoy. Its origins can be traced back centuries to North Africa. 

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The pasta is a product of rolled, moistened semolina from wheat. The granules are then steamed until they are light, fluffy, and tender. The result is a delightful texture that easily absorbs the flavors of the ingredients you cook it with.

What is Couscous de Timbuktu?

Couscous served with veggies and nuts.
Couscous served with veggies and nuts. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Couscous is a North African pasta with tiny grains made from semolina flour. Its texture looks like grains of rice or quinoa, but it’s actually pasta! A traditional food of the Maghreb region of Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, and Libya, the Berbers developed it between the 11th and 13th centuries.

It contains gluten because it’s made from wheat. So, if you are following a gluten-free diet, stay away from it or look for gluten-free couscous.

One aspect of this dish’s appeal globally is its remarkable adaptability. This allows for a wide range of recipe variations using additional ingredients. It’s a fantastic main or side dish that pleases almost any palate because you can add fruits, vegetables, and meats. 

People Also Read: Recipe: Delicious Binyebwa | Ugandan Groundnut Sauce Recipe

Types of Couscous

There are two major types:

Traditional Couscous 

This type has tiny, irregular grains, and it cooks fast. It’s the standard variety and is labeled “couscous” at the grocery store. It’s often called Moroccan couscous.

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Israeli couscous 

The pearl shape gives it a nickname, pearl couscous, and it’s large and shaped like balls. Due to its large and similar-shaped grains, it should be considered pasta rather than couscous. 

Unlike the traditional type, Israeli couscous is always machine-made. A government-sponsored initiative to feed immigrants in the 1950s led Israel to develop Israeli it.

How to Cook Couscous de Timbuktu

Ingredients for cooking Couscous de Timbuktu by SisiYemmieTV
Ingredients for cooking couscous by SisiYemmieTV

Ingredients

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Always use a 1:1 ratio of couscous to water or broth.

  1. For one cup of couscous, boil 1 cup of broth or water in a saucepan. Add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil into a skillet. This is an optional step but can make a difference in imparting flavor.  Add the uncooked couscous and toss around constantly, using a wooden spoon. You’re looking for it to gain a beautiful golden brown color. 
  3. Add the golden hue pasta to the boiling water.
    Stir the toasted couscous into the boiling water. Cover the saucepan and remove from heat or turn the heat off immediately. 
  4. Allow the couscous to sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes until it has absorbed all the water. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust the salt to your liking.
  5. Optionally, you can add some spices and herbs for flavor.
    You can serve your couscous plain at this point. Or, feel free to add a little seasoning of your choice and some fresh herbs like ground cumin, chopped parsley, dill, and green onions. You can add some vegetables like carrots, onions, sweet corn, and green peas.
  6. Once you add the flavorings of your choice, give the pasta another toss to combine, and transfer to a serving platter. Enjoy!

Couscous Serving Ideas

Couscous de Timbuktu salad
Couscous salad. Image source: Freepik licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Once you’ve cooked your couscous, you have all sorts of options. Here are a few ideas

  • Add Mali’s couscous to a salad by mixing it with vegetables and dressing. You can also use it instead of quinoa, bulgur, or millet in a grain salad.
  • You can top the couscous with stew. Traditional couscous is often served with stewed seasonal vegetables. 
  • Make it a complete meal. To make a quick meal, top Couscous de Timbuktu with roasted vegetables like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, tahini sauce, and your preferred protein.
  • Serve under seafood like shrimp, salmon, salmon cakes, or scallops

People Also Read: Recipe: The Fluffy Algerian Baghrir Pancake Delight

Tips for Perfectly Cooked Couscous

  1. Follow the 1:1 liquid-to-couscous ratio. If you plan to cook 1 cup of couscous, you’ll need 1 cup of boiling broth or water. To be sure, read the couscous package, as some may require a different ratio. However, using less liquid may be ideal for mixing it with a salad.
  2. Use broth as the liquid for your cooking. You can use either water or broth, but broth will flavor your couscous more quickly.
  3. Before cooking the couscous, toast it a little bit. There’s no need to do this step, but it adds a lot of depth of flavor and subtle nuttiness to the dish. Toast it in extra virgin olive oil before adding it to the boiling liquid. The couscous should turn golden brown after a few minutes. Make sure it doesn’t overbrown.
  4. Do not disturb the couscous when pouring the hot broth. Stir, remove it from the heat and allow the hot liquid to absorb it fully.
  5. Another serving idea is to fluff the couscous with a clean fork and jazz it up with flavor. Add a little spice or fresh herbs to infuse more flavor if you like.

Video Credit: Cooking Basket

Cooking Basket is a cooking YouTube channel where you’ll find delicious dessert recipes in easy ways. 

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Mali’s Couscous de Timbuktu

Mali
Recipe: The Versatility and Global Appeal of Mali’s Couscous de TimbuktuSedi Djentuh
Couscous is a product of rolled, moistened semolina from wheat. The granules are then steamed until they are light, fluffy, and tender. The result is a delightful texture that easily absorbs the flavors of the ingredients you cook it with.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine African
Servings 4
Calories 176 kcal

Equipment

Skillet

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup broth or water
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions
 

  • For one cup of couscous, boil 1 cup of broth or water in a saucepan. Add a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil.
  • Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil into a skillet. This is an optional step but can make a difference in imparting flavor. Add the uncooked couscous and toss around constantly, using a wooden spoon. You’re looking for couscous to gain a beautiful golden brown color.
  • Add the golden hue couscous to the boiling water.
  • Stir the toasted couscous into the boiling water. Cover the saucepan and remove from heat or turn the heat off immediately.
  • Allow the couscous to sit undisturbed for about 10 minutes until it has absorbed all the water. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Taste and adjust the salt to your liking.
  • Optionally, you can add some spices and herbs for flavor.
  • You can serve your couscous plain at this point. Or, feel free to add a little seasoning of your choice and some fresh herbs like ground cumin, chopped parsley, dill, and green onions. You can also add some vegetables like carrots, onions, sweet corn, and green peas.
  • Once you add the flavorings of your choice, give the couscous another toss to combine, and transfer to a serving platter. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 176kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 6gFat: 0gSodium: 8mgFiber: 2gSugar: 0g
Keyword Couscous, Israeli couscous, Semolina
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Sedi Djentuh
Sedi Djentuh
Hey, Sedi here, a content writer. She's fascinated by the interplay between people, lifestyle, relationships, tech and communication dedicated to empowering and spreading positive messages about humanity. She's an avid reader and a student of personal weekly workouts. When she's not writing, Sedi is busy advocating for plastic-free earth with her local NGO.

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