Slideshow photos by www.jefftafoya.com photography
1 stick of unsalted butter salt to taste ice cold water as needed Method:
1) Place the couscous in a large round shallow dish. Stir in 1 cup of ice cold water. Let stand for 20 minutes. The couscous will stick together in one large, stiff mass. Break apart the couscous with your fingers using a circular raking motion and by gently rubbing the couscous with couscous untill all the grains are seperate.
2) Place the couscous in the steamer insert portion of a couscoussier. Fill the bottom pot of the couscoussier approximately 1/3-1/2 full of water, place steamer insert on top, bring water to a gentle boil. The water level should be low enough so that there is no risk of it touching the bottom of the steamer. Let steam uncovered for about 30 minutes.
3) Turn the couscous into the bowl. Sprinkle with about about 1/4 cup of cold water and 2 tablespoons of salt and add 1/3 stick of butter. Traditionally, North Africans use their hands to incorporate the ingredients, you can use a fork if the heat bothers you. Let stand for about 30 minutes, rake with your hands (or stir with a fork) again to completely separate each grain and return to steamer for a second steaming.
4) Steam for 20 minutes, turn out the couscous into a bowl, add about 1/4 cup of cold water, more salt to taste and 1/3 of the butter, fluff the couscous using the same raking motion, let stand for 30 minutes and return to steamer for final steaming.
5) Turn out the couscous into the bowl, add more salt and butter to taste. The finished product should be light and fluffy, with an al dente texture. It should not be gritty or mushy. Serve on a round platter in a mound as shown. A former student of mine, Jameen Khan, gifted with me a Japanese made tagine. And no, North Africans do not serve couscous in a tagine. That was done for photographic purposes.