This is the traditional way to prepare Tunisian couscous. You will need a large, open dish, a medium sieve (3 mm holes) and a fine sieve (1.5 mm holes), and a couscoussier or steamer. You can add flavourings to the liquid, such as lemon juice, and once the couscous has plumped up, you can then stir through other ingredients to make a side dish or main meal. 






Skill level

Average: 3.6 (66 votes)


  • 2 handfuls salted water
  • 2 cups coarse semolina 
  • ⅔ cup fine semolina

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Sprinkle the water over the coarse semolina to moisten it. Add the fine semolina and gently combine, adding a little more water if needed. As you combine the two, using the flat of your hand, small beads should begin to form. If you add too much water, add a little more fine semolina.

Rub the grains through the sieve to remove lumps, adding fine semolina if it is too sticky.

Shake the sieved couscous through a 1.5 mm sieve. The really fine bits that fall through can be used for sweet couscous. It is those grains left in the smaller sieve that are used for savoury couscous.

Scatter a handful of olive oil over the couscous and rub gently as before to incorporate lightly and evenly.

Scoop the couscous gently into a steamer or couscoussier and steam over rapidly boiling water (or stock) for at least 25 minutes.