Talk:Couscous

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Article Requires Better Picture[edit]

Picture is not very good. The viewer cannot easily see what the item looks like, because the item appears covered in vegetables. Can some wise spark please, ideally upload a close up picture and not a serving suggestion type photo. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.113.77.57 (talk) 11:25, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

Agreed - I swapped the first and second pictures. The couscous is actually visible in the now-first photo. GyroMagician (talk) 20:48, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

African origins[edit]

  • I have returned this disputed passage to the article with a reference.Earthdirt (talk) 13:18, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

There is some evidence that the process of couscous cookery, especially the steaming of the grain over broth in a special pot, might have originated before the tenth century in the area of West Africa now comprising Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Ghana, and Burkina Faso. Ibn Batuta journeyed to Mali in 1352, and in what is now Mauritania he had a pearl millet couscous. He also noted rice couscous in the area of Mali in 1350. Also, for centuries, among the nomadic Berbers, black African women were employed as couscous cooks, another possible indication of the sub-Saharan origin of the dish. [citation needed]

I have removed the above section section from the article for discussion at the very adamant suggestion and repeated reverts of an unregistered user. No references are or have been provided for this information and since it is contested I believe it should indeed be removed until confirmed.--Earthdirt (talk) 19:15, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

This user is not registered as they (User:Mariam83) are banned from contributing to Wikipedia. Under WP:BAN any comments from such a user are to be removed from both articles and talk pages, and changes, whether good or not, are to be reverted. I quote:
Any edits made in defiance of a ban may be reverted to enforce the ban, regardless of the merits of the edits themselves. As the banned user is not authorized to make those edits, there is no need to discuss them prior to reversion. Users are generally expected to refrain from reinstating edits made by banned users. Users who reinstate such edits take complete responsibility for the content by so doing.

I have below attached a comment placed on my talk page for further review by other editors on this subject. I agree that at this point it is not controversial to remove this section just the part about "taam". Earthdirt (talk) 19:20, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Size of couscous[edit]

EMS-108442-Couscous-rule.JPG

From the image I found on the the Commons, it looks like raw couscous is 1-2mm before cooking/rehydration. I have changed it in the article, thoughts.Earthdirt 17:41, 9 October 2007 (UTC)


Couscous is pasta?[edit]

I believe that Couscous is pasta, even though it may be "treated more like a grain in its own right." The Wikipedia article on Pasta states that: "Pasta is a type of food made from the flour of certain grains mixed with water and/or eggs, which is then kneaded and formed into various shapes, and boiled prior to consumption." whereas the definition of Grain on Wikipedia is: "Cereal crops are mostly grasses cultivated for their edible grains or seeds (technically a type of fruit called a caryopsis)." Since Couscous is made of coarsely ground wheat, mixed with water, shaped into spheres, and boiled (or in this case steamed) prior to consumption, in my view it seems to match the definition of pasta exactly. I would like to hear from everyone about their thoughts on classifying Couscous as a pasta and including this in the lead. Otherwise I believe that it may appear that couscous is incorrectly being called the fruit of a grass plant. My latest revision was edited by Drmaik who stated that there is a consensus that this food is a grain and not a pasta. I can't find much discussion on this topic on this page (other than fabiform's comment below, which he later contradicts after hearing how it is made), so I would like to start a true discussion. Can anyone provide any reason that couscous is not a pasta? Please share your thoughts. Peace Earthdirt 23:00, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

The page on "pasta" in Italian wikipedia says that "couscous is considered pasta in the US, but a kind of cereal elsewhere in the world". In England I don't think that couscous is assimilated to italian or chinese spaghetti. If this is the case couscous should not be defined as pasta, but merely "considered pasta in the US". 213.140.6.126 13:01, 19 July 2007 (UTC)
That may be true, in fact that same statement was made on this page. However, the word "pasta" has a definition and how couscous is made fits that definition. The simple fact is grains/cereals are an identifiable unground piece of a plants (the seed). Pasta is a grauin/cereal that has been ground, mixed with water and shaped by humans into something to be cooked. I am not sure why a Wikipedia page in Itialian would be a better source than the ones in English, though the fact that Italians don't call it pasta may indicate that the Sicilian immigrants have nothing to do with people from the US calling coucous pasta. I don't think this issue should be viewed as a cultural one, but rather as a search for fact, and the facts are that there is no plant that makes couscous as a seed; couscous is made of shaped wheat flour and water that is meant to be cooked, and that makes it a strange shaped pasta or perhaps something altogether different maybe "food granuals" or "food pellets". It truly doesn't matter if we use to word pasta, it's just WRONG to call this a "grain" or "cereal" because those indicate that it's a type of unground seed from a plant and it just plain isn't.Earthdirt 15:35, 30 July 2007 (UTC)
Typical package of spaghetti says 100% semolina - main ingredient in couscous. It's no more a grain than Orzo, IMO. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Couscous&diff=prev&oldid=204950697 mis-characterized this; fixing. --IReceivedDeathThreats (talk) 17:14, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Pronunciation[edit]

How do you pronounce this word? 128.12.32.199 18:45, 1 October 2006 (UTC) Koos Koos — Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.113.234.67 (talk) 20:51, 10 June 2011 (UTC)

Crickets[edit]

i'm sure iv'e read somewhere that some of the traditional methods of preperation used crushed crickets or locusts, as a source of protien. Can some one please tell me if this is true one way or the other.


Which ingredients is it made of? -- Hannes Hirzel

I don't know. Whatever pasta's made of. Probably semolina. There are several different recipes for it, just like with any pasta.

The OED says this: "The grain of the African Millet, Holcus spicatus Linn., Penicillaria spicata Willd., a cereal indigenous to Africa, where it has constituted from the earliest times an important article of food." first recorded use around 1600. Entry for "millet" as follows: "A graminaceous plant, Panicum miliaceum, native of India but extensively cultivated as a cereal in the warmer parts of Europe, growing three or four feet high, and bearing on a terminal spike or panicle a large crop of minute nutritious seeds. a. The grain." That seems different than semolina (my speculation above), which is made from wheat. ... Maybe that's just another way to make it? I'm seeing a lot of websites showing it made from semolina too.


The first reference I saw listed semolina, and the stuff I use is definitely semolina, but it doesn't surprize me that the originaly was millet (which is a different grain--semolina is a grind of wheat). That makes more sense given the climate of North Africa. It's probably us Europeans who started making the stuff from wheat later.

Millet is a different plant -- a type of sorghum (or related to sorghum) -- Marj
As far as I know, it's not a European import, but a price issue - couscous made from semolina is better, but more expensive than barley or millet couscous. Mustafaa 18:49, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Talk from the "cous cous" page:

Huh? What part of the Middle East? The kind I've had is always wheat flour, and never any sight of fleshy parts of baobab trees. Does the composition differ regionally?

Ditto - besides, there already is an article on couscous. -- Marj Tiefert, Monday, June 17, 2002
I vote for merge & redirect this to couscous -- Tarquin Monday, June 17, 2002

DONE! :-) -- Marj Tiefert, Monday, June 17, 2002

One question about cooking - I seem to recall a whole involved ritual of steaming rather than boiling, which keeps the grains from sticking together. Anybody know more? -- Marj

I've never seen couscous described as a pasta before. I thought it was a bit like a smaller version of bulger wheat, a cracked wheat. Looking at google [1] it seems that half the time it's defined as cracked wheat, and the other half it's defined as pasta. I'm very confused. fabiform | talk 18:36, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Couscous is pasta. The cracked wheat stuff is tabbouleh. -- Marj 18:55, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I've been researching this. It seems that it's called a pasta in the USA, but not in (most/all?) other countries. Couscous is steamed semolina (ground durum wheat which is coarser than regular wheat flour). Good pasta is made from semolina, but it is made into a paste with water (that's what pasta means - paste) and rolled or extruded into shapes. So couscous isn't a pasta, although this article should certainly say that it is considered to be a pasta in the USA.
It's not "called" a pasta in the U.S. Actually, most people here also think its a grain, but it is a pasta, not a grain. Here it's made from a pasta-type dough, which, yes, usually uses semolina flour. Once the dough is made, it is finely (or not, some areas of the world like it bigger) grated and dried. This is just a more streamlined version of the traditional method described in the article. The reason you need to first sort of stir fry with a bit of oil to coat before cooking with the liquid is so that it doesn't turn to a pasty blob. Also the reason you fork toss it after cooking, to keep the bits separate and somewhat fluffy. In some parts of the world they "toast" it, not sure how that's done, which does make it taste nuttier and more like a grain. Still, it is a pasta. Zlama (talk) 04:17, 12 October 2011 (UTC)
Tabbouleh is a salad made from vegetables and cracked durum wheat (also called bulger wheat). fabiform | talk 22:00, 7 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I have no idea whether it's a pasta or not, but I do know that "couscous" refers to semolina grains stuck together with water, not to the grains themselves (which are called smeed in the area). According to the definition you cite, that makes it a pasta. Or to quote the link at the end:
To make couscous grains, place several handfuls of semolina in the gsaa, sprinkle them with salty water, then roll the resulting lumps in the gsaa under your palm. Small grains or pellets will form. Repeat this process until all of the semolina is rolled into small pellets. Sprinkle a little flour on the pellets as needed to help separate them.
Sift the pellets through the ghorbal. The smaller, finished grains will drop through the screen into a basket or other container. Tip the larger grains into the tbak so they can be rolled again without returning them to the gsaa. As you roll them, sprinkling with flour as necessary, they will break up to become smaller pellets. Sift again in the ghorbal, re-roll and sift again, until all of the grains have passed through the ghorbal and are thus of suitable dimension—a size that the 14th-century writer Ibn Razin al-Tujibi described as "the size of ants' heads." Any larger grains remaining in the ghorbal when you are tired of rolling can be used for burkukis.
- Mustafaa 08:33, 8 Apr 2004 (UTC)
We must be talking about two different things, both of which need to be discussed in this article. I've found several recipes which are simply steamed semolina. This is the kind of couscous I eat. Other methods, like the one above, seem to form small pasta pellets, as you say, from semolina. I wonder if it's "semolina" that is the problem? I've seen a few references to "coarse semolina" being steamed to make couscous. Others call it "semolina flour", and talk of making couscous from it. It sounds like these semolinas are different, it makes sense that you have to roll and sieve the semolina if it's a fine-ground flour, but not if it's wheat ground to particles which can be nearly a millimeter in diameter (as semolina says).
I'll do more work on this later and try to sort it out so that both kinds of couscous are equally represented.  :) fabiform | talk 09:00, 8 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. There does seem to be some variety in what the term refers to - I've even heard it used to talk about tabbouleh, as someone mentioned! I'm pretty sure the "pasta" method is the traditional one, but I guess it's not the only way to make it... Mustafaa 09:11, 8 Apr 2004 (UTC)
I emailed the manufacturer that I get my couscous from (which is described as dried steamed semolina) and asked them how they make it. And they responded! So, I now know that they make couscous just like you describe with the water and sieves and whatnot, and it was their description on the packet which was confusing me. I still think it's wrong to call it a pasta (just because I've never heard it called that), but I will try to fix the article so that it all makes sense. :) fabiform | talk 18:52, 15 Apr 2004 (UTC)


is that a berber food?

originally, yes. it's spread a bit more widely since...

thinks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by fabiform (talkcontribs)

Image[edit]

(copyvio image removed)--Duk 06:22, 8 Apr 2005 (UTC)

is this a copyvio? anyone else have pics of couscous? The bellman 07:20, 2005 Jan 27 (UTC)

History, and Sub-Sahara[edit]

Added quite a lot to this page, but have I gone overboard with links to other Wiki pages?? Much of this information is from the historian Clifford White.--Dumarest 13:11, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Came back to this site, and found a bit of editing on my spelling - 'Kitab al-tatbikh' is current for the manuscript title, thanks for noting my 'h' which should have been 'b'. But the source of the title has this as 'Kitab al-tabikh' - I don't believe that the extra 't' belongs there.--Dumarest 13:11, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

Sorry, you're quite right. My Arabic went wrong. I've corrected that change. --Drmaik 20:28, 18 March 2006 (UTC)

foo-foo[edit]

Sorry if I have the spelling wrong - the Wiki article says that foo-foo in West Africa is often called cous-cous. I have no idea if this is correct, but I have added that info to this article. Please correct if it is wrong and do likewise to the foo-foo article. --Dumarest 19:50, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Fufu and couscous in West Africa are totally different, the former made from yams and most common towards the coast, and the latter from grains and traditional in parts of the Sahel. Just noted this and have removed the reference. (If fufu somewhere has a name that sounds like couscous, that is news to me.) --A12n (talk) 03:32, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

why couscous?[edit]

Why was couscous originally made, do you think?

Pronunciation[edit]

Couscous rhymes with "soot", not "suit", according to all the dictionaries I have checked. The article is currently (2007-11-10) wrong.

Pronunciation – whoops[edit]

I mean, it rhymes with "suit" and not "soot". The article gives the IPA so that it rhymes with soot but this is wrong. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.153.11.148 (talk) 15:25, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

OED has /kʊskʊs/. I have heard American say ku:shu:s but always assumed this was ignorance... may be I was the ignorant one? Do you have a source? Drmaik 15:31, 10 November 2007 (UTC)
There may be more than one valid pronunciation. Couscous in French (from which I presume we got it in English) rhymes with "suit" and that is also how I always used and heard it pronounced in English. The Arabic original - كسكس - has a short "u" sound perhaps closer to "soot." One alternative etymology (popular, if not necessarily accurate, and in any event missing from the article) is that the latter comes from an onomatopoeia of the sound from cooking it - can that be put in IPA?--A12n (talk) 13:37, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

People in the UK definitely also say /u:/, so I added that. Xipirho (talk) 15:39, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Origins & npov descriptions[edit]

I don't know anything about the origins of couscous but note that the opening "Couscous ... is a food from the Maghreb of Berber origin" could be moved down and combined with the later section on possible sub-Saharan origins as a discussion under ==Origins==. Also the initial description could be more broad rather than focusing first on Maghrebian couscous made from semolina and then mentioning other forms - i.e., a better introduction. --A12n (talk) 13:14, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Similarities with Daliya[edit]

The description of couscous seems exactly like daliya (broken wheat) eaten in India. Are they the same? viyyer (talk) 00:46, 25 January 2009 (UTC)

Maftoul is not couscous[edit]

While it is made of the same basic ingredients, it is a different dish. It is misleading to say that Couscous is known as Maftoul in Palestine and Lebanon. Couscous is known as couscous, and maftoul (or moghrabieh) is a different dish. A new article on Maftoul is warranted. Tiamuttalk 13:39, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Is Maftoul the same as Ptitim? From a google search it seems to be? Perhaps it should be redirected there. I agree that it does seem like it's a different food from Couscous. If it is different than Ptitim I encourage you to find some references and make the redirect an article. At minimum I will move the name down into the similar products part. Peace, Earthdirt (talk) 17:51, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for that. I'm not convinced that Ptitim is the same as Maftoul, given that the Ptitim page claims it is an Israeli invention, whereas this source (and these: [2], [3], [4], [5]) indicates that it is a Palestinian foodstuff. I'd prefer to create a new page on Maftoul out of what it a redirect now, and then if people believe the two should be merged (based on what reliable sources have to say) we can do so. Tiamuttalk 18:09, 22 January 2010 (UTC)
People are surprisingly possessive of the origin of ethnic foods. Since the Palestinian territories and Isreal have so much overlap it seems likely that they may be the same. As you say it can't hurt to have a cited article on Maftoul for now. It would be nice to see a cross link between the two article so that someone who knows can merge them if they are the same. Earthdirt (talk) 23:09, 22 January 2010 (UTC)

Popularity[edit]

I believe couscous is not only popular among Jewish north Africans. I am a Muslim Tunisian and eat couscous at least once a week. All north Africans do! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 41.225.106.120 (talk) 12:52, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

For Wiki you need a citation rather than personal experience. (P.S. I'm a UK resident of no religion and I eat couscous more than once a week, but that isn't going in an encyclopedia article either) ;) 86.179.43.73 (talk) 18:56, 3 May 2011 (UTC)

A cup? Big cup, small cup, medium cup?[edit]

Wouldnt it be better if the nutritional information is given for 100g rather than a "cup"? I know Americans are obsessed with cups, but in other countries apart from the US and perhaps Canada, a cup can be be many different volumes, so it is meaningless. The amount of substance in a cup of any volume will also depend upon it being tightly or loosly filled. Giving information for 100g also means it easy to see the percentages. Quoting things in cups is as opaque as quoting things in firkins or hogsheads. The people who eat it as a staple use metric. By the way, there is no such thing as a "metric cup" either. 92.28.245.233 (talk) 18:58, 23 July 2011 (UTC)

Modern manafacturing[edit]

There's a website here that explains the process, this should probably be added to the article. http://www.clextral.com/editorial.php?Rub=158 Muleattack (talk) 18:11, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

Sicily[edit]

Cous Cous is also typical food of western Sicily. Thuis tradition may be derived from the times wherein Sicily was under Arab/Berber control. I do suggest to redraft the preamble of the page as to indicate Sicily, along with Tunisia an other northern Africa country, as a place wherein couscous is a common dish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.92.153.12 (talk) 10:48, 23 May 2012 (UTC)

Cous Cous is not typical food of western sicily, it's only eaten in trapani where the preparation is more akin to fish pasta from southern italy than anything from north africa. max — Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.8.103.30 (talk) 19:44, 15 October 2012 (UTC)

In Portuguese-speaking countries[edit]

There is a complete section missing in this article. It is not mentioned that the couscous was introduced in Portugal (Portuguese spelling: cuscuz), and from there it was taken to Cape Verde and Brazil. In Cape Verde, cuscuz is a maize flour cake, cooked by steaming. In Brazil cuscuz is steam cooked dish of either maize, rice or cassava flour. 95.93.16.111 (talk) 15:08, 23 July 2013 (UTC)