Couscous is a smallish-grain/pasta made from semolina and coated with wheat flour is predominant in Mediterranean, some Middle-Eastern and African cooking. Usually steamed and then tossed around in a bit of oil or butter, the dish is serve with meat or vegetable stew (think Moroccan tajine) but can also be prepared as a salad such as tabbouleh or eaten on its own.
Tabbouleh is Syria’s national dish and is traditionally made with bulgur wheat and tossed with scallions, parsley, mint and capsicums. Over time, communities worldwide have adapted this dish to feature couscous instead of bulgur, a form of cereal food made from durum wheat.
I was first introduced to this refreshing yet light dish by Nil – yes, his first few years as a child in Africa has influenced his palate and ultimately, mine as well. Commercially made tabbouleh contains more couscous, salt and flavouring. Home-made ones tend to feature more lemon, resulting in a minty tang to the dish.
Tabbouleh must always sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the couscous to absorb the various flavours and aromas from the herbs, and vegetables. For faster cooking time, opt to use instant couscous which takes about one minute to cook instead of the regular version which can take way longer. Use fresh herbs to give it a light and cool taste – dried herbs will not be suitable for this dish.
100 gms instant couscous
1 yellow capsicum
Handful of parsley
Handful of mint
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt & pepper
- Cook the couscous as per instructions. Once cook, place in a salad bowl and fluff up until there are no more lumps.
- Drizzle olive oil, juice from 2 lemons, salt and pepper onto the couscous and stir until well-mixed. Place in the refrigerator.
- Finely diced the tomatoes (discard the pulp), capsicum (discard the seeds), scallion, mint and parsley.
- Toss them together with the couscous until well-mixed and place in the fridge again for at least 30 minutes.
- Serve as is (a whole meal by itself) or as a salad.