Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous

For this month's MENA Cooking Club we were given the option to share any dish from any of the MENA countries with the spirit of Ramadan. As soon as the challenge was announced, I was so happy that I could finally get around to the bookmarked recipes and give them some limelight too! 

Ramadan is not about food and yet Food finds the centre of the stage with Iftar and Suhur ideas floating in every social media feed. It is only this month where I desperately try some of my own traditional Malabar food and so trials and experiments of a new taste, cuisine etc takes a backseat. But when a challenge is up, I do go that extra mile to make it happen! and so tried my hands on making Mesfouf with Couscous, in the most traditional way.

As always I was too lazy to type and kept postponing hoping to make the dish again with my own twist and here I am in the last few hours before the challenge typing away this post...

Ever since I saw Mesfouf in UmmHamza's blog, I wanted to make it even though I had no idea what it was then. I got a pack of couscous last Ramadan but never got to it 😭I guess every blogger has some stash like that which is waiting to see the daylight. 😊So when the challenge was announced, I had decided that I will give Mesfouf a try and make use of that pack of Couscous.

Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous

Sweet Mesfouf is a dish that includes steamed Couscous with olive oil, butter, nuts and raisins and served warm with Laban or buttermilk. Everything about it is up my alley. But what kept me from trying it was that the pack had no instructions and the internet had vague solutions on "what cooking method for what kind of couscous". Seems there are instant couscous and the more traditional ones. Thankfully, both my favourite Algerian bloggers were active on Instagram and I bombarded them with my questions and pictures of my steamer, couscous pack etc and they were so kind and patient in explaining and helping me get confident to try it. Thank you so so so much lapetitepaniere and Halal HomeCooking

I have adapted and halved Halal Home Cooking's recipe and used ghee instead of butter. This is my first time and I wanted to make again with dates and sultanas but never got to it. As it is eaten warm or at room temperature with cold Laban or buttermilk, it makes a perfect breakfast bowl. The very reason it is a popular Suhur option across the Maghreb region that includes Algeria.  

So what is Couscous? The literal translation is "well rolled" and it is made by rolling durum wheat and semolina by hand which is now mostly replaced with a machine! Did you read Semolina? :-) Another strong reason for me to try this because you all know I am a sucker for semolina! 

While you can check Wiki for more details, I like to direct you to a few websites that I found helpful.

How does it taste? Well, very akin to durum wheat pasta or semolina etc. I find its texture and the shape is what makes it unique and like everything out there, quality matters!

Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous

Updated 6th October 2017
I made Mesfouf for my weekday breakfast this week and used dates and black raisins along with almonds. Even this time, F did not favour it. :-(

Traditionally, couscous is prepared in a couscoussier that resembles our two or three-tier steamer vessel. I used my steamer but the holes on it were bigger, so I lined the pans with baking paper to prevent couscous from falling down into the water. (Hope to update step by step pics next time, InshaAllah)

Here are the ingredients I used for making a bowl of Couscous which we had for Suhur (pre-dawn meal).

Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous 


1/2 cup couscous
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter or ghee, divided 
salt to taste
a handful of nuts (almonds, walnuts and pistachios), roasted
5 to 8 dates, pitted and chopped roughly
1 tablespoon of golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
a dash of orange blossom water or rose water
choice of sweetener - honey, sugar, etc
Serve with cold Laban/buttermilk
1 cup water, divided throughout the steaming process

Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous


  1. Heat enough water in the base pot of the steamer over medium heat and place the basket on top and allow the water to come to a simmer. If the holes of your steamer basket are bigger like mine, then care to line the vessel with baking paper. 
  2. In a shallow bowl add couscous and with a fork mix in two teaspoons of olive oil and 1/4 cup cold water. Let the mixture rest until the water is absorbed by the couscous. 
  3. Add the couscous to the basket, leave the steamer uncovered and allow to steam for 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully put the couscous back into the bowl, stir in half of the butter, salt and 1/2 cup water. Allow it to rest until water is absorbed then place the couscous back into the steamer basket and steam for another 10 minutes.
  5. Once again, empty the steamed couscous back into the same bowl and mix in remaining oil, raisins, dates, and 1/4 cup water. Put the couscous mixture back into the steamer basket and steam for another 10-12 minutes. The couscous should be soft but not wet.
  6. Empty the fully steamed couscous mixture into a large bowl, mix in the remaining butter, orange blossom water, some honey and the roasted and chopped nuts. 
  7. Spoon in the prepared Mesfouf into serving bowls and sprinkle with cardamom powder, scatter the remaining nuts and drizzle honey to taste. 
  8. Serve Mesfouf with laban or buttermilk (recommended) or it can be had as is. 
Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous
Mesfouf | Steamed Sweet Couscous

For Knowledge Seekers: 

The article by The Spruce on What is couscous? is where you can start your lessons. Bon Appetite has listed the five common mistakes that you should avoid when using Couscous. And all experts agree that packaged couscous that is instant is no good. So don't invest in them. 

This Couscous can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and should be steamed for 5 to 8 mins before consuming. 

I am hoping to come back to this post later when I make another bowl of Mesfouf and update the instructions and pictures. InshaAllah. 

Alhamdulillah, I made it to the linky party! :-) Love MENACookingClub!