Get ready to taste a bit of nostalgia with one of the most loved Israeli side dishes. Israeli Couscous, also known as Ptitim or Pearl Couscous, is an Israeli childhood staple. To this day eating it makes me feel like a kid again.
There are so many variations of this dish; I even heard that a Michelin-starred restaurant in New York has Israeli Couscous on the menu. Today I am teaching you how to make a very basic and nostalgic Israeli Couscous recipe.
What Is Israeli Couscous?
Israeli Couscous, also called Ptitim, פתיתים which means flakes in Hebrew, is a type of pasta made of semolina or flour and water. The Israeli Couscous was developed in the 1950s by the Israeli prime minister, David Ben-Gurion when there was a rice shortage. It was called “Orez Ben-Gurion” (Ben-Gurion Rice), and the product was instantly successful. However, despite the name, it’s technically not considered a “real” Couscous like Moroccan Couscous. It has a soft and chewy texture, like pasta and slightly larger balls. A good Israeli Couscous should be fluffy and tasty enough to eat plain.
Where Can I find Israeli Couscous?
How to Store Leftover Israeli Couscous?
Store Couscous in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 to 5 days.
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Basic Red Ptitim (Israeli Couscous)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive or canola oil
- 1 small white or yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup Israeli Couscous
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 heaping teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) boiling water or chicken stock *the liquid used to cook the pearls in has to be HOT when you pour it in.
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion, and stir briefly. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until translucent (not browned or golden).
- Add Couscous and sauté until it turns golden brown (be careful it does not burn). This should take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Add tomato paste, sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and salt and mix until all the pearls are coated.
- Carefully pour the boiling water (keep your face away from the pot, it can splash). Cover the pot with a lid and bring it to a boil.
- Once you have hit the boiling point, slightly move the lid so the pan will be open a smidgin. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
- Remove from heat and cover the pot with a kitchen towel before placing the lid on top (make sure to fold the towel edges onto the top of the pot to keep them away from the burner).
- Let it rest for 10 minutes (KEY STEP).
- Fluff with a fork, then serve!