Medieval large-grain couscous

A recipe from The Exile’s Cookbook for a variation of the famous Berber (Amazigh) dish couscous, this one involving hand-rolled large grains known as muhammas (محمّص). The word is derived from ḥimmiṣ (حمّص), ‘chickpea’, in reference to the shape and size. It is still used in this sense in North African Arabic dialects, alongside others like barkūk, barkukes, abāzīn or mardūd. The importance that is attached to this kind of couscous is such that in some regions it is known, simply, as ‘aysh (‘life’).

It is different from the usual couscous in that semolina is kneaded and shaped into pellets the size of peppercorns which are then dried in the sun before cooking them with the meat of your choice. For the re-creation, chicken was used, but it works just as well with beef or mutton. A wonderful dish.

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