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Kitchen Queries

Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Do you need to cook cous cous?

    Hi I was wondering do you actually need to cook cous cous, and if so for how long? Or is it ok to just soak it in boiling stock or water? Thanks ms jones

    From the nigella team:

    Couscous is actually a type of pasta, a paste of wheat and water which is rolled into little balls rather than into strands or shapes. Traditionally cooking couscous was a laborious process, it was cooked in a steamer set over a pot of simmering stew and to prevent it from being sticky it would be steamed 2 or 3 times. Some suggest that the name couscous came from the noise made by the couscous steaming, though it is more likely to come from the Berber word "sesku" meaning "rounded".

    The good news is that the couscous sold in most Western supermarkets is a pre-cooked type. It is steamed and dried before being packaged so only needs to be rehydrated by covering with boiling water or stock (broth). Cover tightly and leave to stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Stock will give a better flavour and the couscous usually benefits from a little added fat, such as some olive oil or a pat of butter. Couscous can be a little bland so may need extra seasoning. It is wonderfully versatile and ready in minutes and Kitchen has some great couscous recipes, such as Standby Starch and Rocket and Lemon Couscous.

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