Like couscous, so-called Israeli couscous are small, round, pasta-like granules made from semolina and wheat flour.
While the Israeli company Osem claims to have “invented” Israeli couscous in the 1950s, it is simply a marketing term for what was known previously as North African berkukes or Palestinian matfoul and popular in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Unlike familiar small, yellow semolina-based North African couscous, Israeli couscous (which is sometimes called pearl couscous) is twice as big and is toasted rather than dried. This gives it a nutty flavor and a sturdy composition that gives it a chewy bite and makes it stand up to sauce.
Israeli couscous can be used in salads, soups or as a base for chicken or fish. It works well when prepared like a rice pilaf.