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Hand-Rolled Couscous

  • SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 3 1/4 CUPS UNCOOKED FINE COUSCOUS
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • VEGETARIAN

  1. 1 cup coarse semolina (available at Middle Eastern groceries)
  2. Fine sea salt
  3. Cold water
  4. 1 cup semolina flour
  5. Oil or butter for greasing the inside of the colander
  1. Spread coarse semolina on a large round tray. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of salted cold water over the coarse semolina and, at the same time, rotate the palm and fingers of one hand in wide circles (in one direction only) to create tiny spheres.
  2. After two or three rotations, begin to sprinkle the semolina flour and about 1/4 cup cold water alternately on the spheres while continuing to rotate. As the spheres absorb the flour and water they will turn into tiny couscous "beads" more or less the same size.
  3. Shake or lightly press the couscous "beads" through a tamis or sieve in order to standardize their size. Place in a finer sieve to shake and remove excess flour.
  4. Bring plenty of water to a boil in the bottom of a deep kettle or couscous cooker. Pile the freshly rolled couscous into a lightly oiled colander or top container. Fit top onto bottom checking for a tight seal. Partially cover and steam 15 minutes.
  5. Dump couscous onto a tray, sprinkle with 1/2 cup cold water and rake the grains to keep them separate. Gradually add another 1/2 cup water while raking the couscous. When the couscous has absorbed all the water repeat the steaming for 15 minutes.
  6. Dump couscous onto a tray, gradually work in another cup cold water and rake the grains to keep them separate. Allow to rest, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff up the couscous and loosely cover with a damp towel. Up to this point the couscous can be prepared a few hours in advance.