Photograph of couscous
Couscous. Photography: Daniel Lailah.

Tripolitanian Couscous

Couscous was the staple dish of North African Jews who adopted and integrated it into meals. For Libyan Jews it is a Monday tradition

“Tripolitan couscous is white and extremely fine, in fact, the finer it is, the better,” says Sylvie Goren, who learned how to make couscous from her grandmother who was born and raised in Libya. “The filtering and sifting is hard work – but worthwhile,” she adds.

Sylvie’s son remembers how “as a child, when Mom would prepare couscous, I would always steal pieces before filtering- what we call ‘marbles’ or solidified balls of unseparated couscous.” And Sylvie adds with a smile, “To this day- I’m 60 years old- I steal marbles from the pot. Just like when I was a child: it’s a tradition from Grandma’s house who used to laugh that I kept stealing her marbles and finishing all the couscous before she could sift it. There’s nothing to do, it is so delicious.”

Ingredients for Tripolitanian Couscous

For the couscous

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kilogram) semolina
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoon Salt

For the vegetable soup:

  • 5 carrots washed and peeled
  • 5 zucchinis
  • 4 potatoes
  • 3 sweet potatoes
  • 5 segments pumpkin peeled
  • 1 celery stalks
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • ½ tablespoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon Salt


Prepare the couscous:

  • 1. Mix the semolina, flour and oil in a bowl, add one cup of water, mix well again and crumble the semolina lumps.

  • 2. Transfer the semolina crumbs to a strainer of couscoussier (couscous pot) over boiling water, cover and steam for about 35 minutes.

  • 3. Return the couscous to the bowl, add one cup of room temperature water, mix well and return to the steamer for 35 minutes.

  • 4. Pour the couscous into a bowl, add 1/2 cup of water and mix. Pass through a couscous strainer (or a dedicated strainer) and serve.

Prepare the soup:

  • 5. Put all the vegetables in the pot, add water to cover. Season generously and cook until all the vegetables are soft. The couscous can be served mixed with the soup or separately.

◆ ◆ ◆

This recipe is taken from the interactive food display at ANU – Museum of the Jewish People. Chief Museum Curator: Orit Shaham Gober. Performance Content Manager: Liron Tzabri; Director: Amit Farber; Artistic director: Amit Farber; Photography: Daniel Lailah; Interactive: Creative Love.

*שמנו לב שחסרים כמה פרטים קטנים להשלמת הפרופיל שלך ב־FOODISH, אפשר להוסיף אותם בקלות בעמוד המשתמש שלך.