|Israeli couscous, Jerusalem couscous|
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Ptitim (Hebrew: פתיתים) is an Israeli toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls. Outside of Israel, it is known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous. In Israel it is sometimes colloquially and jokingly called "Ben-Gurion rice" (Hebrew: אורז בן-גוריון órez Ben-Gurion).
"Ptitim" was invented during the austerity period in Israel (from 1949 to 1959), when rice was scarce, to provide for the needs of the Mizrahi immigrants, for whom rice was a dietary staple. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, asked Eugen Proper, one of the founders of the Osem food company, to quickly devise a wheat-based substitute to rice. Consequently, it was nicknamed "Ben-Gurion's rice" by the people. The company took up the challenge and developed ptitim, which is made of hard wheat flour and roasted in an oven. The product was instantly a success, after which ptitim made in the shape of small, dense balls (which the company termed "couscous") was added to the original rice-shaped ptitim.
Ptitim is popular among Israeli children, who eat it plain, or mixed with fried onion and tomato paste. Ptitim are now produced in ring, star, and heart shapes for added appeal. For health conscious consumers, there are also whole-wheat and spelt flour ptitim.
While considered a children's food in Israel, ptitim is sometimes treated as an ingredient for "trendy delicacies". In the United States, it can be found on the menus of contemporary American chefs, and can be bought in gourmet markets.
Ptitim can be used in many different types of dishes, both hot and cold. They retain their shape and texture even when reheated, and they do not clump together.
Commonly, ptitim are prepared with sautéed onions or garlic (vegetables, meat, chicken or sausages can also be added); the ptitim are then added, and fried for a short time before adding water. Ptitim can also be used as a substitute for pasta or rice. They can also go in soup, can be baked, served in a pie, or made as a risotto. American chef Charlie Trotter has produced a recipe for ptitim with spinach, artichoke, and Kalamata olives.
Pearl-shaped ptitim are somewhat similar to the Levantine pearled couscous known as maftoul or mograbieh in Lebanon. It is also similar to the Kabyle Abazine and the Sardinian Fregula. Rice-shaped ptitim are similar to orzo.
- Doram Gaunt. "Ben-Gurion's Rice". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Sharon Wrobel. "Half of Israeli households buy low-fat products". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- Faye Levy. "Petit ptitim". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05.
- "Israeli Couscous". GourmetSleuth.com. Retrieved 2012-06-05.