Couscous is a popular and versatile North African dish made from tiny balls of semolina flour or durum wheat. It’s a staple in many households because it’s easy to make, inexpensive, and can be served as a side dish or as a main course. But, making perfect couscous can be tricky. If you don’t cook it properly, it can be clumpy or mushy, ruining the dish. Today we’ll show you how to cook perfectly fluffy couscous every time.
Choosing the Right Couscous
The first step in making perfect couscous is choosing the right type of couscous. There are many types of couscous available in the market, ranging from fine to coarse. Fine couscous is the most popular variety and is readily available in most grocery stores. However, medium or coarse-grain couscous is better for fluffy couscous. Medium couscous has a slightly larger grain than fine couscous, and coarse couscous has the largest grain. Both medium and coarse couscous takes a little longer to cook than fine couscous, but they yield fluffier and more textured couscous.
Preparing the Couscous
Once you’ve chosen the right type of couscous, it’s time to prepare it for cooking. The first step is to measure the ingredients accurately. Measure the couscous and the liquid using a measuring cup or a kitchen scale. The ratio of couscous to water is usually 1:1, but some types of couscous may require more water. Check the package instructions for the recommended ratio.
The next step is to hydrate the couscous properly. The most common mistake people make when cooking couscous is not hydrating it correctly. The couscous needs to absorb the liquid properly to cook evenly and become fluffy. To hydrate the couscous, place it in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Stir the couscous gently to ensure that all the grains are coated with the water. Cover the bowl with a lid or a kitchen towel and let it sit for 10-15 minutes until the couscous has absorbed all the water.
Cooking the Couscous
After the couscous is hydrated, it’s time to cook it. There are several ways to cook couscous, including a stovetop, rice cooker, or oven.
To cook couscous on the stovetop, place the hydrated couscous in a pot and add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir the couscous gently to separate the grains. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and let the couscous simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cover the pot with a lid and remove it from heat. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the couscous is fully cooked and fluffy.
To cook couscous in a rice cooker, transfer the hydrated couscous to the rice cooker and add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the water according to the recommended ratio and start the rice cooker. Once the couscous is fully cooked, fluff it with a fork.
To cook couscous in the oven, preheat the oven to 375°F. Transfer the hydrated couscous to an oven-safe dish and add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the water over the couscous and stir gently. Cover the dish with a lid or foil and place it in the oven. Let it bake for 20-25 minutes until the couscous is fully cooked and fluffy.
Fluffing and Seasoning the Couscous
Once the couscous is fully cooked, it’s time to fluff and season it. Fluffing the couscous is essential to ensure that it’s light and airy. Use a fork to fluff the couscous gently, separating the grains and making them fluffy.
Next, you can add seasoning to the couscous to enhance its flavor. Couscous is a versatile dish that can be seasoned with a wide range of ingredients, including herbs, spices, vegetables, and fruits. Some popular seasoning options include cumin, coriander, parsley, mint, lemon juice, and olive oil. Mix the seasoning into the couscous using a fork, making sure that all the grains are coated evenly.
Serving the Couscous
Once the couscous is seasoned, it’s ready to serve. Couscous can be served as a side dish or as a main course. It’s a great accompaniment to grilled meat, roasted vegetables, or sautéed greens. You can also serve it as a salad by adding chopped vegetables and fruits.
To serve the couscous, transfer it to a serving bowl or platter. Use a fork to fluff it one last time before serving. You can also garnish the couscous with chopped herbs or nuts for added texture and flavor.