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c.1600, from French couscous (16c.), ultimately from Arabic kuskus, from kaskasa "to pound, he pounded."
North African dish of semolina and accompanying foods. The semolina grains (the endosperm of Durum wheat) are prepared in a couscousiere, a large covered pot with a lower compartment in which a stew or broth cooks and an upper portion with a pierced bottom in which the couscous steams. The grains must be sprinkled with liquid, stirred to separate the clumps, and steamed several times. While the grain is steaming, a stew of lamb, chicken, chickpeas, and vegetables cooks in the lower portion of the pot. The couscous and stew are eaten with harissa, a fiery sauce of red pepper and other spices. Alternatively, couscous can be eaten as a sweet dish with fruits and milk or as a breakfast porridge.