Couscous (in Berber : Seksu or kesksu) is on the one hand a semolina of durum wheat prepared with olive oil (one of the traditional staple foods of the Maghreb countries), and on the other hand, a culinary speciality from Berber cuisine, based on couscous, vegetables, spices, olive oil, and meat (mammal or poultry) or fish.
It is with Tagine, one of the emblematic dishes of traditional Maghreb cuisine , and more broadly Jewish cuisine from North Africa , African cuisine, and the Mediterranean diet, cooked according to multiple regional and local cultural variations.
The oldest known traces of couscous are found in burials of the third century B.C., of the time of berber king Massinissa of Numidia (in the current North of Algeria), one of the cradles of the culture of the wheat.
Known in France since the 16th century, it was incorporated into French cuisine at the beginning of the 20th century, via the french colonial Empire and the Pieds-noirs of Algeria , and to this day is the third favourite salty dish of the French.
Different views are accepted as to the origin of couscous, but the most widespread is that which testifies to a Berber origin.
The culinary historian Lucie Bolens describes primitive pots of couscous found in the tombs dating back to the reign of Berber king "Massinissa" that is, between 238 and 149 BC.
This region of North Africa was particularly prosperous and was considered the" granary of Rome".
The Arabs, after their conquest adopted it and we find the remains of the first (known) utensils in the region of Tiaret (present - day Algeria ) where the kitchen tools dating from the 9th century that have been discovered are very similar to the main tool for cooking couscous.
Thus, Semolina, well known in the Meghreb countries before the Arab conquest, is not known by the conquerors of the middle east.
During the islamisation of North Algeria they discovered and adopted semolina, (Semid in Arabic ) which became the basis of a dish of the most important in their eating habits.
They integrated this dish of origin commonly attested Berber, so much so that a history known in Algeria and Tunisia tells that a tribal chief threatened his wife, ( newly converted to Islam), to kill her in the case where she would be unable to prepare this dish.
"Rabelais" is the oldest writer to speak about couscous ( nicknamed " couscoussou" in his Pantagruel novel of 1532. As for Alexandre Dumas, he calls it "pincou pincou" in his Grand Dictionary of cooking, mixing recipes and historical stories.
Its consumption spreads on the North shore of the Mediterranean basin in the twentieth century, in Algeria families sent to the metropolis to replace in factories men left to the military front, during the First World War ( 1914 - 1918 ), then by the Pieds-noirs, who helped integrate it into french cuisine at the time of Algeria's independence and the 1962 exodus, to this day making it the third favourite dish of the French.
I first tasted couscous when i was a child at home with my family, my mother who prepared it because it was her favourite dish. I learned couscous from my mother, she helped me to prepare it many times. This dish reminds me about good times that i spent with family and reminds me about many different occasions.
So i want to present the Kabylian couscous from our region in Tizi - ouzou.
🥘 Preparing the Kabylian couscous 🥘
The kabyle cuisine is very rich with various traditional dishes.Among those dishes , there is a widespread one which is couscous ( sekssu ) .
It is the plate which had to be presented in all kabyles occassions like weddings, circumcision or even in sad events,etc.
In the following , a small cooking recipes of preparing couscous in kabylia.
[23:22, 24/07/2020] Fatiha: 🥗 Recipe 🥗
The ingredients: for 6 people
● 1 kg of couscous ( the sekssu done manually is better of course )
● 1 kg of sheep meat or chicken ( you can use even beef )
● 1 good handful of chickpeas
● 2 good handful of green beans ( you can use other vegetables )
● 2 courgettes
● 2 or 3 carrots
● 2 small potatoes ( optional)
● 1 big onion
● 1 tomato and one tablespoon of canned tomatoes.
● 3 tablespoon of oil
● 1/2 of paprika and black pepper
● teaspoon of ras el hanout spice mix
● 1/2 tablespoon of salt for the sauce and 1/2 tablespoon for couscous
● 1 large green chili pepper ( optional )
🥘 Preparation 🥘
Chop the onion and tomato very thin, cut the carrots and courgettes into small pieces.
Put the chopped onion and tomato in a cooking pot. Add the chicken, chickpeas, salt and oil, let them together fry very well ( for 15 to 20 minutes).
After that, pour 2 litters of water. Add paprika, black pepper, ras el hanout spice mix.
And then add courgettes and green beans (which have already prepared in hot salted water) to the cooking pot.
Aside, prepare the couscous. Wet the seeds with a little oil and water and roll, wetting from time to time, until the grains become soft.
Put the couscous in the top of the food steamer to steam it, a first time "couscous is perfect when you put your hand on it and the grains do not stick by hand. Then pour it back into the couscous dish, spread it with a wooden spoon.
Then put in the dish and sprinkle with salt water. Roll it up to absorb water. Oil the grains and steam it one last time.
Serve with sauce , meat or chicken and vegetables. You can serve it with different sorts of salad, like Green salad or chilli pepper salad ...