Sweet Couscous with Fresh Pomegranates

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    6 to 8

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Moroccan fine-grain couscous, called tnsfouf, is freshly steamed, then very simply served— anointed with melted butter, mixed with orange-flavored pomegranates, then sprinkled with some crushed pistachios and delicate cinnamon. I know of no other dessert quite like it.


  • 2 large very red pomegranates
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • Pinch of freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of ground dried orange peel, optional
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine or baker’s sugar
  • 1 cup fine-grain or medium-grain packaged couscous
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • Ground Ceylon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons crushed, peeled pistachios Confectioners’ sugar


  1. Roll the pomegranates around on your kitchen counter to soften them, then break up in a bowl of water to keep the juice from spurting. Drain, place skin side up in the bowl, and give each section a good bang with the back of a heavy knife to loosen the seeds.
  2. Combine the pomegranate seeds with the orange juice, orange flower water, pepper, dried orange peel, if using, and ¼ cup superfine sugar. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  3. Put the couscous in a fine sieve and rinse under cold running water. Turn into a bowl; let soak for a minute or two, break up any clumps, and let stand until ready to steam.
  4. Meanwhile, fill the bottom part of a couscous pot with water and bring to a boil. If you don’t own a couscous pot, a deep kettle and a snug-fitting vegetable steamer or colander will do. (If the latter doesn’t fit perfectly, use padding: Dampen a cheesecloth, twist it into a strip the length of the circumference of the kettle top, and tuck it between the two parts, to make sure the steam rises only through the perforated holes.) Lightly oil the inside of the steamer. Don’t let the perforated top touch the boiling water below.
  5. Break up the couscous with a fork. Pile into the perforated container, cover tightly, and steam for 30 minutes.
  6. Dump the couscous onto a tray. Sprinkle with ½ cup lightly salted cold water and rake the grains to keep them separate. Gradually add another ½ cup water while raking the couscous. When the couscous has absorbed all the water, toss with the olive oil and fluff with a long whisk. Pile the couscous back into the container and repeat the steaming for 30 minutes.
  7. Dump the couscous onto a tray, gradually work in another cup cold water, and rake the grains to keep them separate. Gently mix in the remaining 1 tablespoon superfine sugar. Loosely cover with a damp towel and let stand in a cool place until ready to serve.
  8. Fluff up the couscous and add the melted butter and the prepared pomegranate seeds with their soaking liquid. Gently fluff the couscous again; pile in a mound, decorate with lines of cinnamon and pistachios, and dust the top with confectioners’ sugar.