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Jul 23, 2008 08:34 PM

Persian/Iranian couscous vs. farina?


I was talking with someone whose ex in-laws were from Iran. He was going on about how their couscous isn't pasta, it's farina. I've been researching and understand that couscous is generally made from semolina which resembles farina. So I'm understanding the difference between durum/hard semolina used in pastas and non-durum soft semolina used more for porridge. I'm not sure which type is used for couscous or if Iran uses a different type than the rest of the Mid-East/African region that cooks a lot of couscous.

Does anyone know the variation of styles of couscous around the world? Is Iranian couscous more like just the porridge kind of grain? Are some forms more from the basic grain and others further processed into what I think of when I think of pasta and the couscous I'm familiar with? I do know that couscous can come in varying size grains, up to the pearl Israeli style. My friend mentioned also something about them steaming it and then pouring over a broth with vegetables. If anyone has a recipe for this type of dish, I'd be appreciative is you could share.

Thanks so much.


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    I prefer Israeli couscous when I can find it, bit it's difficult to find in my area so I'm forced to use the smaller pellet varieties like Moroccan. I also haven't been able to find Lebanese couscous and I'm anxiously awaiting the day when I can try that. Moroccan style couscous is, IMO, somewhat boring and I often choose to use risotto instead.

    3 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Thanks. It still shows the varieties I'm aware of. Just not clear on the Moroccan style- if it's basically a teeny sized pasta made from farina or it is just actually the farina grain only itself in the case of this mysterious Persian style couscous. Or it's just a language thing where they were referring to couscous pasta as "farina."

      I do love me some Israeli style couscous, though from your link, it sounds like I'm sometimes buying Lebanese couscous labelled as Israeli couscous (like at Trader Joe's) because mine is super big. I make it with lots of fried onion and mushroom.

      1. re: CypressStylePie

        moroccan cous cous is the same as algerian cous cous, tiny little grains of pasta. it is pasta and not a grain made from semlina flour. israeli and lebanese cous cous are also called maftoul. it looks like large pearl tapioca. they are basically the same except that lebonese is bigger and very difficult to find. uncooked israeli is about the size of uncooked lentils and lebanese might be like the size of a be-be. <(sp?). the israeli cous cous at trader joes is israeli cous cous. lebonese is bigger. both are also called middle eastern cous cous as opposed to algerian or moroccan, but to sub categorize middle eastern cous cous, the israeli is smaller than the lebonese. i was finding lebanese in the bulk section at whole foods for awhile, called middle eastern cous cous. they discontinued it and months later brought it back, but the second time it was israeli. i like the lebonese better. it is more exciting; because of the size it is chewy. middle eastern cous cous is a correct name, but to get more specific there is lebonese and israeli within that group.

      2. I've eaten iranian food all my life and have never heard of iranian couscous? I'm not sure if such a thing exists to be totally honest. I know there is moroccan couscous and maybe other middle eastern types but I have never eaten it in the context of iranian food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cups123

          I agree, never heard of couscous from Iran. Are you sure they aren't talking about some form of bulgur wheat?

          Farina is cream of wheat/samolina, I used to hear that couscous was made of samolina but I think I discovered that durham samolina flour is used to make pasta and couscous too, it's a bit different.

        2. Couscous is not at all a part of Persian cuisine.