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Seffa de couscous - little grains of sweet delight

Greeting all my friends in the Blogosphere!

Today, I want to talk about couscous ... but not just any ordinary couscous ....

Couscous generally is symbol of hospitality in North Africa. Served both at happy and sad occasions.

The word couscous. It is called
taam in Algeria, seksu in Morocco, kousksi in Tunisia and maftoul in Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine.

The name is derived from the Berbere word
seksu, meaning well rolled, rounded.

Seffa is traditional sweetened couscous where the grains are coated in butter then many times also mixed with dried fruits and nuts.

There are different Seffa recipes : Seffa de riz, Seffa Medfouna, Herbel (wheat cooked in milk) ... and Seffa de couscous, which is my favourite and the one I present today. (I might post the others later)This dish is served usually at engagement parties, funerals but also for souhour (morning breakfast) during Ramadan. But also served in many parts of west Algeria and Morocco for new guests visiting for the first time.

This dish is rather sweet but still is not considered a dessert. Algerians make it by just adding sugar to the couscous, but I have found making a simple syrup then steeping the fruits (plus I sometimes add apples or pears) little cinnamon then drizzling it on the couscous gives it much better taste!

is traditionally served in a big salad-bowl like called zlafa, a large and deep serving dish of wood or ceramic which is most often just as colourful and festive as the dish itself. The zlafa is set right on the table, in the middle, reachable to all the persons at the table. Each guest is given then a spoon and even a small bowl of leben (buttermilk). Everyone eats from their own section of the couscous. Invading the other's section is considered extremely rude. Well enjoy the recipe ... and don't hog all the fruits from your neighbours! =)

My version:

Numbered List
  • 1/2 package - 250g Couscous fine (small grains)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • 3 cups water
  • dried fruits (what you like ... I use either mix of figs, prunes, apricots and sultanas or raisin. Apples and pears are also nice
  • pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg
  • few cardamom pods
  • orange blossom water, few splashes
  • toasted almonds, pine nuts pistachios

  1. Prepare the couscous per the method: soak, steam, fork.
  2. Poach the dried fruits (or fresh apples/pears) in the sugar water with the spices/orange water. Remove cardamom pods when finished.
  3. Toast the nuts.
  4. Finally mix the fruits in with the couscous. Mound the couscous on a platter in a pyramid type shape. Optionally draw a line on the couscous with cinnamon. Top with the nuts. Have sugar at the table for those who prefer it sweeter.

Algerian version:

  • 1/2 package of couscous
  • sugar to serve at the table
  • cinnamon
  • toasted almonds
  • sultanas (swelled in water, preferably orange blossom water)
  • dab of butter (optional)

  1. Prepare couscous.
  2. Mix sultanas and butter in the couscous.
  3. Mound the couscous on platter as above.
  4. Decorate with cinnamon and toasted nuts.


around the region of Alger this type of couscous is more commonly known as Mesfouf.

I serve this alot for breakfast or even lunch meals since it's quick and filling.
I use local acacia honey from Chiffa instead of the sugar which is healthier and natural alternative. But if you do choose to use sugar, maybe if you use the sugar sparingly.


  1. How interesting. We serve something similar at funerals or memorials but instead of couscous we use cracked wheat, raisins, almonds, sesame seeds etc. I am planning to post this recipe next week.

  2. This is a very nice looking dish , i am not so much into sweet dishes but this looks lovely, thanks for sharring and i do hope you will feel better soon.

  3. Thank you so much for this recipe and the background information around couscous which I have found most interestering. By the way I also love your intro " Simplicity in the kitchen means cooking everyday food.. creating A CORE OF HAPPINESS around the table!" We sometimes forget this dimension of preparing meals for our loved ones. All the best. Ma'salaam. Fasni.

  4. Congratulation! You have won the 5th Mediterranean cooking Event - Morocco with this dish. See: http://www.tobiascooks.com/blog-events/and-the-winner-is-5th-mediterranean-cooking-event-morocco.html

    In order to claim your price please mail me your contacts via my contact form on the website.

    Please add as well a link and mentioning to my event withing your post, as this is part of the rules of participation.

    Best regards


Did you make this? Or have a question about the recipe? Have some helpful feedback to share? Or just want to say hello? Leave comment love below :)
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