Couscous grains with a heart by Kseniya Nekrasova

How to Master the Art of Preparing Couscous the Moroccan way

Couscous, a beloved staple not just in Morocco but around the globe, holds a place of honour as Morocco’s national dish. Every Friday night, Moroccan households come alive with the aroma of this cherished meal, but the art of its creation remains a mystery to many.

The Story of Couscous

Tracing its roots back to the 11th century, during the era of the Zirid dynasty, couscous tells a tale of the Amazigh (Berber) communities nestled in the Moroccan mountains. With wheat readily at hand, couscous emerged as the go-to meal: simple to prepare, nutritious, economical, and versatile. Originally, it was served with whichever seasonal vegetables the mountainous terrain yielded.

Over time, couscous has woven itself into the fabric of Moroccan culture, with each city or region putting its own twist on this traditional dish. While the grains themselves are made from semolina, it’s the companionship of vegetables and meat that gives couscous its heart. The most celebrated version across Morocco? The 7 vegetable couscous, a medley of semolina grains, crowned with a rich mix of meat and a variety of vegetables like courgette, carrots, and onions.

Steaming Couscous: A Culinary Art

Despite couscous’s seemingly humble preparation, it is considered one of the more challenging dishes to master in Morocco. Yet, the process is remarkably suited to the bustling life of Moroccan families or anyone with a tight schedule.

To embark on the couscous journey, one must first befriend the couscoussiere or steamer, the centrepiece of this culinary adventure.  Follow these comprehensive yet straightforward steps to master the art of Moroccan couscous


    • 450 grams of dry couscous
    • 2 -3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter
    • Salt, to taste
    • Water


    • A couscoussière (traditional Moroccan steamer) or a large pot with a steamer basket
    • A large bowl

    Step-by-Step Guide:

    Prepare the Couscous for Steaming:

    • Place the dry couscous in a large bowl.

    • Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt.

    • Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil or melted butter.

    • Gently rub the grains between your hands to coat evenly with the oil and salt, helping to prevent clumps.

    First Steam:

    • Fill the bottom part of the couscoussière with water and bring to a boil.
    • Once boiling, reduce to a simmer.
    • Place the couscous in the steamer basket, spreading it evenly.
    • Cover and steam for 15 minutes, ensuring steam is rising through the couscous, indicating it's cooking.

    Fluff and Hydrate:

    • After the first steam, transfer the couscous back to the large bowl.
    • Sprinkle with a little cold water (about 60ml), tossing gently with a fork or your hands to separate the grains and allow even hydration.
    • Let it sit for about 5 minutes to absorb the water.

    Second Steam:

    • Return the couscous to the steamer basket.
    • Steam for another 15 minutes, allowing the couscous to fully cook through.

    Second Fluff:

    • Transfer the couscous back to the bowl.
    • This time, add another tablespoon of olive oil or butter to enrich the flavour and assist in further separating the grains.
    • Gently fluff and separate any clumps, ensuring a light, airy texture.

    Final Steam:

    • The couscous returns to the steamer for a final 15 minutes. This last steam ensures it's perfectly fluffy and fully cooked.

    Season and Serve:

    • Return the couscous to the bowl for one last fluff.
    • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary.
    • Serve hot as a base for your favourite Moroccan stews, meats, or vegetables.

    Tips for Success:

    • Be Gentle: When fluffing the couscous, be gentle to avoid crushing the grains.
    • Hydration: Ensure the couscous isn’t overly wet when hydrating. Aim for moist, not soggy.
    • Steam: Make sure there's always steam passing through the couscous; this shows it's cooking correctly.

    Steaming couscous the Moroccan way might take a bit of time, but it’s a straightforward process that results in a delicious outcome. Savour the fruits of your labour with a beautifully steamed dish that's light, fluffy, and perfect for soaking up the flavours of your accompanying meal.

    So, as you share your couscous creation, remember you’re not just serving a meal, but continuing a story centuries in the making. We invite you to tag us on Instagram with your couscous tales and creations!

    In this guide, we’ve journeyed through the history, intricacies, and cultural tapestry that couscous represents. A dish that, with every steam and stir, invites you to partake in a rich heritage, blending the simplicity of grains with the complexity of Moroccan tradition.

      That is how couscous is prepared in Morocco. Tag us on Instagram with your creations!