Couscous- steamed semolina, that usually comes with vegetables and some meat. That’s it. Really? You probably can get a precooked one in the nearest grocery store. But once you try the real thing- you have no way back.
One of my childhood memories is Dina’s Couscous. Every Friday Dina would cook a huge pot of Couscous for her family, and often times a nice bawl landed at my parents’ house, as a good neighbor gesture- like in the old times.
The flavor and the aroma of Dina’s couscous felt so comforting and delicious, symbolizing for us the beginning of a wonderful, long-awaited weekend.
Many North Africans claim that couscous was originated from their country. Oh, if the middle east was so calm a peaceful like this woman! Dina gently avoids the conflict and doesn’t argue. “I just make the Morrocan version, as my mom thought me”.
Her kids already grew up and got married, but yet, once in a while, she would make the traditional couscous and her little grandkids would enjoy the taste they parents grew up on. That’s the beauty of traditional food.In order to make a “by the book” couscous, you have to roll the semolina grains with some salt and water. This process is what makes the difference and created the myth of how hard is it making a real couscous. “Actually, it’s pretty simple,” says Dina while moving her palm in the semolina. I learned how to make the couscous from my mother when I was already a grown up. My mother was paralyzed in one hand, so she made the process with one hand- so do I now. Before she started working with the semolina she prepared the pot with the soup- chicken, squash, pumpkin, celery, cabbage, carrots with salt, pepper, paprika, and Corkum- all go in. Some people add hummus beans. the Soup is boiling, the semolina grains have been processed and ready, and now the go to the couscous special pot (it’s like pasta pot, goes above the soup and has small holes inside, so it can be stemmed over the soup and soak the aromas p. Once the semolina is cooked, Dina takes it out, washes it like a pasta under the stream of cold water, and mixes it with the spices. Now – back to get some more steam and let the flavors settle. While all this happens, there are another 4 dishes on the oven and dozen of others are laying all over the place (there is no space o the table anymore so there are pots on the floor)- Moroccan tuna fish, pumpkin dish, meats, freshly bakes bread, orange sponge cake with nuts and many more. It’s evening, I am at my parents’ home, in a few minutes we will start the Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) festive dinner. I hear somebody shouting my name. “Sima,” the voice says. Maybe I am imagining? not enough sleep hours? I look at the gate, as it locked at this time of the day. Guess what? It’s Dina, with a huge pot of couscous and chicken. I feel in a time machine, 15 years younger. And the same taste, agh! the teste of the long-awaited weekend and the neighbors’ amazing couscous.