Unlike couscous which is a North African dish that was originally made from millet and is now made from wheat, its Israeli counterpart was always intended as a wheat-based dish. Invented to make up for the scarcity of rice in Israel, it is also called Ben Gurion's Rice after David Ben Gurion, the Israeli prime minister who asked for the invention of this dish as a substitute to rice. Also known as Ptitim, Israeli couscous is similar to pasta, and is shaped like round pearls.
Traditionally and even today, in Israel, this form of couscous is considered food for kids, but all over the world, it is considered a delicacy, integral to gourmet food. Contrary to popular belief, learning how to cook this variety is very easy and simple.
Ptitim can be used in a variety of dishes, from main courses to desserts, depending on the recipe that is used. Owing to its small size, it takes very little time to cook (at the maximum about six minutes). Another feature of the dish is its ability to retain its shape regardless of how warm it is. Also it does not clump, which makes it visually more appealing. If cooking couscous, then its ratio to water should be 1: 2.
Herb Cooked Israeli Couscous with Apples
To cook this dish, the ingredients you need are listed out below.
- Israeli couscous, 2 cups
- Chicken broth, 4 cups
- Olive oil, 3 tablespoons
- Parsley, chopped, ¼ cup
- Rosemary leaves, chopped, 1 ½ tablespoons
- Green apple, cubed
- Thyme leaves, chopped, 1 teaspoon
- Cranberries, dried, 1 cup
- Almonds, slivered and toasted, ½ cup
- Apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup
- Maple syrup, 2 tablespoons
- Salt, as per taste
- Black pepper, ½ teaspoon
- Take a saucepan and pour in two tablespoons of olive oil. Heat it on medium flame and add the couscous. Stir till couscous is slightly browned. This should take about five minutes or so.
- Next add the chicken broth and allow it to boil. Let it simmer for about 12 minutes by which time the liquid should have evaporated. Now put the couscous in a bowl and let it cool. Add the herbs, apple, cranberries, and almonds.
- Now in a small bowl, take vinegar, maple, salt, and pepper, add ¼ tablespoon of olive and whisk it gently. Pour this mixture over the couscous and toss it so that it gets mixed evenly.
Israeli Couscous Salad
Sold in the United States as maftoul, ptitim is a very popular base for salads. Given below are the ingredients for a salad made from the same.
- Israeli couscous, 1 ½ cups
- Corn kernels, 2 cups
- Onion, chopped, 1
- Coriander seeds, ground, 1 teaspoon
- Jalapenos, seeds removed, minced, 2
- Caraway seeds, ¼ teaspoon
- Red bell pepper, chopped, 1
- Scallions, sliced, 2
- Mint, chopped, 3 tablespoons
- Canola oil, ¼ oil
- Lime juice, 1/3 cup
- Rice wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons
- Honey, 1 tablespoon
- Lime zest, grated, ½ teaspoon
- Pepper, as per taste
- Firstly place the couscous in a bowl and add boiling water. Now add salt and cover with a cling film and let it stay. Stir it when the grains seem plump which should take about an hour.
- Now heat the olive oil and add corn, coriander, onion, caraway, and cook it on low flame. Continue to cook till the onion is soft. Once this is done, transfer it to a bowl and let it cool.
- Once it cools down, add the couscous, bell pepper, jalapenos, scallions, and mint. Pour in the lime juice, the canola oil, vinegar, honey, and zest. Toss it well and serve.
These are two of the simplest recipes that you can use to cook Israeli couscous. You can modify the recipe according to what your taste buds dictate, and come up with your own dishes.