If you have dined at novel restaurants serving traditional African cuisine, you have certainly had a delicious dish called couscous. And in case you are wondering what exactly is couscous, well, it is a standard recipe made from durum wheat/semolina whipped up in many countries in the northern part of Africa, much like the pasta that is ubiquitous in Italian fare. Couscous might seem like a basic preparation of rolled semolina with vegetables, chicken or meat, but it supplies ample vital nutrients including vitamins, fibres, proteins, minerals, antioxidants, besides offering an array of wonderful merits for overall wellbeing.

Also Read: 5 Essential Antioxidants To Add To Regular Diet For Enhanced Overall Health
Couscous in a bowl

What Is Couscous?

Couscous is a customary dish encompassing tiny round pellets of durum wheat semolina that is steamed, seasoned with spices and herbs and topped off with a stew of vegetables, chicken or meat. It is a traditional recipe from the Maghreb region i.e. the north-west parts of Africa comprising the countries of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania.

Couscous has the distinction of being amongst the age-old recipes that have stood the test of time and continue to play a major role, serving as a regional identity in Northern Africa. Hence, owing to the deep cultural roots of this dish, couscous has been incorporated into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, an initiative by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to protect key cultural heritages and spread awareness worldwide about their significance.

The name “couscous” is derived from the Berber language native to the northern and north-western parts of Africa and translates to “well-formed, well-rounded, rolled”, referring to the durum wheat semolina that is properly moulded into small circular granules and then steamed with spices, herbs, vegetables, chicken or meat to make the final dish. While making hand-rolled couscous at home from scratch is a rather tedious and time-consuming process, readymade couscous is available widely in stores nowadays similar to pasta varieties, which can then be steamed and prepped with vegetables, chicken or meat for a wholesome meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner.

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Easy And Nourishing Couscous Recipe:

Lemon And Herb Couscous
Lemon and herb couscous


2 cups readymade dried couscous

3 tbsp lemon juice

Salt, as per taste

1 tsp black pepper powder

1 tomato, cut into bits

1 cucumber, sliced

1 cup mixed herbs – mint, basil, coriander, parsley

½ cup pine nuts, chopped

½ cup raisins


Fill a large wide vessel with water, add salt and boil for 2 minutes.

Add the couscous, cook for 7 – 10 minutes until it becomes soft.

Drain the excess water, then add the lemon juice, salt and pepper to the cooked couscous and mix well.

Transfer the cucumbers, tomatoes, mixed herbs, pine nuts, raisins to the boiled couscous, stir the ingredients nicely.

Serve the lemon and herb couscous warm as a healthy breakfast, or as a side/salad for lunch or dinner.


Couscous supplies ample proteins, fibres for growth, development and digestion. Lemon juice is imbued with vitamin C and antioxidants, being an excellent natural detoxifying agent that cleanses the stomach, intestines, liver, kidneys of harmful wastes, free radicals, toxins. The herbs - mint leaves are rich in menthol compounds that cool the system, lower body heat and coriander leaves possesses vast reserves of iron, calcium, phosphorous for improved blood circulation and fortified bones and joints.

Also Read: Coriander Leaves: 5 Excellent Health Benefits Of Adding These Aromatic Leaves To Your Daily Diet

Superb Health Benefits Of Couscous:

High In Proteins

Couscous is a fantastic plant-based source of proteins, supplying myriad essential amino acids that promote metabolism, growth and biochemical activities in cells, tissues. Delivering 6 grams of protein in a 1 cup i.e. 157 gram serving, couscous is an ideal addition to vegan and vegetarian diets to obtain the required amount of proteins, which are a key nutrient in reducing the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, heart disease.

Bolsters Immunity

As couscous is prepared from durum wheat flour, it is inherently rich in phytonutrients of phenolic acids, carotenoids and tocopherol derivatives – all powerful antioxidants that combat detrimental free radicals and safeguard healthy cells from oxidative damage. Hence, couscous confers remarkable merits for uplifting immune functions in the body and keeping illness and infections at bay.

Aids In Digestion

Couscous is packed with dietary fibres that facilitate smooth digestion, control appetite, curb untimely cravings and help maintain healthy body weight. Moreover, fibres are requisite for optimal bowel movement and thus, adding couscous in moderate quantities sin the regular diet augments gut health and kidney functions.

Lowers Risk Of Cancer

Laden with selenium which is a potent antioxidant and a key essential mineral for nervous system functioning, couscous significantly lowers inflammation in the body and reduces the chances of developing cancer.

Promotes Heart Wellness

Couscous supplies ample amounts of selenium, which possesses antioxidant properties that safeguard cardiac tissues. By preventing the aggregation of plaque, bad LDL cholesterol and fat deposits in the arteries, veins, couscous works wonders in averting cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis and improves heart functions.