Pearled couscous is amazingly easy to cook and is a versatile grain to replace rice in many recipes. I refrain from calling these recipes authentic to any cuisine because like any authentic cuisine, there are as many variations as there are people who cook them. This version was inspired by the seasonings used in a simple sago (sabudana) preparation that is eaten on days of fasting. The original recipe is very simple using potatoes instead of mixed vegetables, the key to this is treating whatever grain is being used, properly. If you are using sago, ensure the sago is soaked in a 1:2 ratio in a flat bottom bowl or pan. If using pearled couscous make sure you toast it a little before cooking it. Pearled couscous looks very similar to sago but it is not a grain you would eat when observing a fast.

Mild Medium Spicy  
1 1 1 cup dry Israeli couscous
1 1.5 2 tablespoons roasted cumin seeds
1-1 1/2 1-1 1/2 1-1 1/2 cups chopped mixed vegetables
10-12 10-12 10-12 curry leaves finely chopped
1/4 1/4 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1/2 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies
1 1 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 - 2 1 - 2 1 - 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
1/4 1/2 3/4 cup chopped herbs (cilantro)
  • Heat a flat-bottomed pan and toss the couscous to roast for about 5-10 minutes. Roasting the grains enhances the flavor. Once roasted, add double the amount water and bring to boil. Cover and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Follow the instructions on the package for cooking time if they are different. It is important to not overcook the grains. Every package has specific cooking instructions.
  • In the same pan, add the oil (you can add more than a tablespoon). Once heated add the cumin seeds, curry leaves and chopped chilies. Once the spices are roasted (no more than one minute), add the mixed vegetables.
  • Stir the vegetables and cook to the level desired. I like them crisp so depending on the vegetables, no more than 5-6 minutes.
  • Add salt and couscous and toss quickly to mix the vegetables.
  • Once the vegetables and couscous are combined, turn off the heat and add lime or lemon juice, peanuts, and fresh herbs. Mix thoroughly and serve.


I like to use this cooked grain as a base for a quick lunch bowl with lightly dressed greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes. It makes a quick lunch to carry to work or a quick WFH lunch when you have 5 minutes to get lunch ready.


Grain Vegetables Chilies Herbs
Couscous Potatoes Hatch Chilies Cilantro
Quinoa Sweet Potatoes Shishito Peppers Parsley
Millets Cauliflower Jalapenos Any mixed herbs
Oats Peas Banana Peppers  
Sorghum Green Beans    
Sago Carrots    
  • Cut the mixed vegetables to a similar size and if you are using vegetables with varying cooking times, add the ones that take longest first i.e. carrots before peas and green beans before peppers etc.
  • In this version, I used mixed frozen vegetables and dried them out on a towel before chopping them into even sizes. When working with frozen vegetables, saute on high heat so they do not get soggy.
  • Do not skip toasting the grains, it keeps them separate and prevents clumping.
  • I like to soak the quinoa before using and then drain and toast it before cooking.
  • All cilantro haters can skip the cilantro and use parsley instead. There is no need to eat soapy couscous when you can enjoy it with other herbs.
  • Use chilies with caution. The intensity of chilies vary . If you prefer a milder flavor use banana peppers or bell peppers, but do not skip it altogether. Since the seasonings used in this recipe are few, it important to use all the components.
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