what is it?
Israeli couscous, also known as maftoul, is shaped like small pearls and is much larger than traditional North African couscous. It’s lightly toasted in an open-flame oven, but if you’re preparing it like rice pilaf, it benefits from being toasted again so that it will absorb the cooking liquid and yet remain al dente.
how to prep:
In general, cooking Israeli couscous is like cooking any other pasta; just check frequently to avoid overcooking, as it can turn to mush if ignored. You’ll want to bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add a generous amount of salt before adding the couscous—the water should taste almost like seawater (the pearls absorbs only a small amount of the salt). The cooking time will vary depending on the brand, but you can anticipate that it will cook in slightly less time than normal pasta.
You can also cook Israeli couscous like rice pilaf—in a covered sauté pan with other ingredients. As with rice, you want to lightly toast the couscous in the pan, stirring constantly, before adding the liquid. This helps the couscous cook more evenly. After you’ve added the liquid, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the couscous is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid. Again, the cooking time will vary from brand to brand.