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Handraked Couscous


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A Turkish women taught me how to make handraked couscous using semolina. She was taught by her Moroccan mother-in-law as the rules of marriage dictate. It is a simple technique that needs to be practiced to obtain uniform grains and not clumps.

I need a partner to photograph the raking and sifting but for the meanwhile:

semolina used to make couscous:

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Couscous after raking and steaming twice using a couscousiere

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Meatballs flavoured with cinnamon, turmeric and paprika and cooked with celeriac and peas

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Does anybody in EG make couscous?

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Does anybody in EG make couscous?

I do hope so ! Wonderful pictures.

I have read Paula Wolfert's info but was a bit confused. I am not sure if the type of couscous I can buy in the "natural" store (or in a box at the supermarket) is the type that can be rinsed and steamed.

It would be very interesting to get the details on what exactly to buy, and how to carry out the process of making it from scratch.

Are those all LEMONS?

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I made couscous many years ago and repeated the process a few times but it is just too much work for my arthritic joints. It isn't heavy work but the repetition really aggravates my wrist so I simply buy the bulk couscous at my local middle eastern market. It is not the pre-processed stuff that needs only to have boiling water added. It turns out best when soaked, drained and steamed.

It is simply made with semolina flour, the "fine" and water. The process is not as easy as it looks. I learned from a neighbor who had lived in Tunisia for many years. I used wire sieves sized coarse and medium.

Clifford Wright explains the process in detail here.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I've made hand-raked couscous before--I find the result much more digestible and texturally interesting than the dried, boxed kind.

I've found it much easier, however, simply to form a ball of semolina dough and rake it across the mesh of a fine chinois strainer from the inside. While not authentic, this method seems to have the same effect, with little grains of couscous falling into the plate underneath. Does this count??

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Did this Turkish lady also mention Turkish "Kouskous", which is made a little differently to the North African type.

In answer to you question, yes I make it quite often. Originally following the technique published by Paula Wolfert. I use a medium semolina as the nucleus and add fine semolina to build up the granules.

I find it very simple now, although it does take some practice to get the right "feel". Altering the way they you make it (more water, less water;) lets you change the proportions of fine to larger granules. I keep the bigger clumps (if any) and toast them and keep them in a jar, when I have enough I make a Sardinian fregula with them. In terms of regular couscous, I get a very fine granule and a medium granule using sieves, if I use the steamer part of my saucepan steamer, I get a bigger round granule. All are used in different ways.

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The way I was taught to make couscous is similar to Clifford Wright's method, raking with the addition of oil, salt and steaming three times. Wrights says to rake the couscous until they form pellets the size of peppercorns, I find that this is too big as they expand after steamng.

For every cup of fine semolina I add about 1 tablespoon durum wheat flour and I find that I have an easier time forming the grains. Paula Wolfert uses much more flour in her method and when I tried it I ended up with golf ball sized balls. The Turkish women did not use anything but semolina (no flour) but did add lots of margerine and beef fat (I guess traditionally it would have been lamb fat and clarified butter). I use a neutral tasting vegetable oil and not olive oil which sometimes has a strong taste -about 1/4-1/2 cup for kg of semolina. I have a couple Hebrew language Moroccan cookbooks and some of them use flour (although never as much as Wolfert's recipe) while others only semolina.

When I first began making couscous I always had lots of big clumps which I would rub and sift through as well as large amounts of semolina particles which did not adhere. Slowly I am perfecting the method- it is all about feel and very difficult to learn from any recipe. I usually steam over water but add whole spices to the couscous, suchs as cinnamon which adds a nice aroma. I add more water to the couscous and rake it through after the first and second steaming.

I have trouble reheating the couscous, no matter how much I steam it, once it cools down it tends to dry out quickly. I suppose I can resteam it but I get lazy sometimes. I think the couscous stores better if more fat is added but I try to avoid adding too much.

The Tunisians like much finer couscous, at least my neighbor does.

I never heard of Turkish couscous and would be happy to learn more about it.

I will try to post more detailed pictures. Everytime I make it my kids want to join in because it looks like so much fun, I think I would end up having a cousous blizzard

Edited by melamed (log)

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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yes, those are lemons (limequats) which I preserved in brine. I have a little tree that produces a surprisingly prodigious harvest. Next time I will

make cuts in the lemons, add some harissa and lemon juice for a more flavorful outcome.

They are great in many couscous stew recipes

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Here are the three sizes of couscous I make. The large irregular granules on the right end up as fregula.

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Do you use fregula like you would the smaller sized couscous? or are there special fregula recipes? Looks like you store it like pasta. How do you cook it once it dries out?

Your fish stew looks great! For now I have only one sifter but I think it is more interesting to have a variety of sizes.

Edited by heidih (log)

Cheers, Sarah

http://sarahmelamed.com/

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Fregula with clams seems to be a classic combination, but here is some information on how to make it and cook with it.

Like I said it was a by-product of making couscous in my early attempts, I don't really get much of the larger granules now. If I want some fregula I have to deliberately go back to being a bit cack handed at making couscous.

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