What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘couscous’ ?Moroccan food? a lamb tagine? sultanas and nuts? or maybe all of the above? It’s true that the main Moroccan dish most people are familiar with is Couscous, traditionally cooked with spices and vegetables and served as a vegetarian meal or could be topped with rich and spicy meat stews to make it even more delicious! I’m drooling right now.
In Egyptian cuisine though, a couscous dish refers to a dessert we call in Arabic ‘Couscousy Bel Sukkar’ which means sweet couscous, traditionally made using butter, sugar, cinnamon, nuts and sultanas. It’s one of these dishes that if you are an Egyptian you would have had it at least once in your lifetime and most probably at your grandmother’s house.
Couscous is one of the ingredients I always keep in my pantry, and that means I use it quite often. What I love the most about these tiny dough balls is that they cook in no time, actually, they are cooked already and all you need to do is to rehydrate them with some boiling water, cover, leave for 10 mins, fluff up with a fork and they are all ready to eat. no boiling. no oil. no stirring. trust me this requires zero skills.
I used to keep the regular couscous, but now I have replaced it with this whole wheat organic couscous which I found in the health food section of my local supermarket, I’ve tried it several times already, in savoury as well as sweet dishes, and I’m totally in love with it. But please, If you can’t find the whole wheat one, use the regular couscous it’s still gorgeous.
Here I have shaken up the traditional recipe a bit to create a healthier version of this dessert/breakfast. I dared to replace the refined sugar with maple syrup, the regular couscous with a whole meal one, and sultanas with dates. I have also gotten rid of the butter, as I thought the good fats from the nuts were sufficient. One more unusual addition was the hibiscus and star anice infusion which I’ve added to maple syrup, for an extra little kick in flavors.
This (in the picture above) is ‘Karkade’ the Arabic name for Hibiscus flowers. It is one of, if not the most, popular tea drink in Egypt and it’s as old as the pharaohs. Dried hibiscus flowers are usually sold in middle eastern shops, and because it’s really healthy you could also find it in the herbs section of health food stores. In this recipe, I’ve only used 1 tablespoon of dried hibiscus flowers for the infusion and some dried ones for decorating the couscous bowl. *I wouldn’t suggest eating the dry flowers, they are very intense in flavor.
Now, am I the only one who likes couscous that much and think it’s a great invention? I would love to hear all about the dishes you prepare using couscous. Don’t be shy and leave me a comment down there, your comments always make my day.
*P.S: issues with my subscribe button on the blog have been fixed last night, so for those who couldn’t subscribe last week please go ahead now, it will take a few seconds, I promise! Sorry for any inconvenience.
Big Love xx
- 1 cup dry organic whole wheat couscous
- 1 cup boiled filtered water
- 8 medjool dates
- 50 g raw pistachios
- 100 g blanched almonds, lightly toasted
- 200 ml organic maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers
- 3/4 cup filtered water
- 200 ml full cream milk, extra for serving
- a pinch of ground cardamom
- Add the boiled water to dry couscous in a pan or a glass bowl and cover tightly.
- Leave for 10-15 mins to rehydrate (absorb al the water). *Check couscous packet instructions for suggested amount of liquid and cooking time.
- In a small bowl cover dates with warm water, leave aside to soften.
- Add all syrup ingredients to a small pan and bring to the boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins.
- Remove from heat and drain, discarding hibiscus flowers and star anise.
- Return red liquid to heat and add maple syrup.
- Simmer on low- medium heat for 2 mins, then remove from heat.
- Warm up your milk, add a pinch of ground cardamom and stir, transfer to a serving bottle.
- Drain the dates, halve each date and discard the pits.
- Fluff up couscous using a fork and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Add nuts and dates to couscous and mix gently to combine.
- Divide couscous mixture equally into 4 bowls, pour the warm cardamom milk on top then drizzle each bowl with the sweet hibiscus maple syrup.
- Serve with extra nuts, warm milk and syrup.
- I have added some extra dried hibiscus flowers to serving bowls for decoration only. they are edible but I don't recommend chewing on them as they are very intense in flavor.