It’s no surprise that many of the classic recipes that I remember from childhood are the very simple ones. Get ready to taste a bit of nostalgia with one of the side dishes that almost any child in Israel would like. But whoever thinks it only belongs on the kids’ menu is completely mistaken.
What Is Israeli Couscous?
Israeli Couscous—also called ptitim פתיתים, is actually a type of pasta made of semolina or flour and water, developed in the 1950s by the Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion when there was a rice shortage. It was also called “Orez Ben-Gurion” (Ben-Gurion Rice); the product was an instant success.
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Basic Red Ptitim (Israeli Couscous)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive or canola oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 1/2 cups (220 -250 grams) Israeli couscous
- 1 heaping teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) boiling water
- In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chopped onion and cook stirring for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the couscous and start mixing. Fry while stirring for three to four minutes. Some kernels will start to turn golden.
- Add paprika, salt, tomato paste, sugar, garlic powder, and stir until all the kernels are coated.
- Pour in (very carefully because it will splash) the boiling water, lower the heat to a minimum, partially cover the saucepan with a lid, and let it cook for 10-12 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
- Remove from the heat, close the saucepan with the lid and put a towel on top, and let it set for 10 minutes