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Israeli couscous.jpg
Alternative names Israeli couscous, Jerusalem couscous, pearl couscous
Type Pasta
Course Side dish
Place of origin Israel
Creator Osem
Cookbook: Ptitim  Media: Ptitim

Ptitim (Hebrew: פתיתים‎‎, literally flakes) is a type of toasted pasta shaped like rice-grains or little balls developed in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce. Outside Israel it is sometimes marketed as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous.[1] In Israel it became known as "Ben-Gurion rice" (Hebrew: אורז בן-גוריון órez Ben-Gurion). Today however, it is mainly called "ptitim" across the people.


Ptitim is available in a variety of shapes, but most commonly in pearl-shaped "couscous" and rice-shaped "orez", as with these bags of ptitim made by Osem.

Ptitim was invented during the austerity period in Israel (from 1949 to 1959).[1] 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.[1] Consequently, it was nicknamed "Ben-Gurion's rice" by the people.[1] The company took up the challenge and developed ptitim, which is made of hard wheat flour and toasted in an oven.[1] 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.[1] Ptitim are now produced in ring, star, and heart shapes for added appeal.[1] For health conscious consumers,[2] there are also whole-wheat and spelt flour ptitim.[1]

While considered a children's food in Israel, ptitim is sometimes treated as an ingredient for "trendy delicacies".[1] In the United States, it can be found on the menus of contemporary American chefs, and can be bought in gourmet markets.[3]

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.[3]

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.[1] 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.[1] American chef Charlie Trotter has produced a recipe for ptitim with spinach, artichoke, and Kalamata olives.[1]

Similar products[edit]

Pearl-shaped ptitim is similar to the Levantine pearled couscous known as maftoul or mograbieh in Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.[4] It is also similar to the Kabyle Abazine and the Sardinian Fregula. Rice-shaped ptitim are similar to orzo.[4] Ptitim is not the same as Mograbia (aka Maftoul, Pearl Couscous etc.), though the two can be used similarly. Mograbia is a coated couscous; Ptitim is an extruded paste. Note as well that the word "Maftoul" is sometimes incorrectly used in America to refer to Israeli couscous.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Doram Gaunt. "Ben-Gurion's Rice". Haaretz. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  2. ^ Sharon Wrobel. "Half of Israeli households buy low-fat products". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  3. ^ a b Faye Levy. "Petit ptitim". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  4. ^ a b "Israeli Couscous". Retrieved 2012-06-05. 

External links[edit]