I used to work in an office by a restaurant that served red ptitim - Israeli-style pearl couscous, today are cooked in some sort of tomato sauce and come out red tainted - but not wet: i.e they're not swimming in sauce: they're served just sightly moist like any other ptitim dish.

I tried to reproduce this at home by cooking the ptitim in tomato juice, tomato paste and even ketchup - but to no avail: they either come out in a lot of sauce or properly dry and not red.

What am I missing?

  • 1
    Could be red pepper paste instead. – FuzzyChef Oct 25 '19 at 23:35

I've never cooked ptitim specifically, but for Mediterranean[1] rice, bulgar, orzo or cous cous, the recipe varies only slightly - so I imaging ptitim to be very similar.

Use a ratio of 1:1.6 grain to water, by volume.

You can add optional onion/peppers etc to this. Soften first, remove & re-add just before the water, or part-soften, leave in, then proceed as follows

Sauté the grains in olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat until they start to change colour [not just clarify because of the oil, actually start to go golden].
Add approx 1tbsp per cup of grain of either tomato purée/paste, harissa paste[2] or any combination of both, then continue to sauté for another 2 minutes. Sautéing tomato paste makes it sweeter & less bitter.
Add your water, straight off the boil from a kettle.
Salt to taste.
Give it a quick stir, drop the heat to minimum & put the lid on.
Allow 13-15 minutes for the water to be absorbed. Don't take the lid off to check. At most, lift it a tiny bit & see if you can hear the crackle as the last bit is used.
Switch off the heat.
Put a tea-towel or paper towel over the pan top & put the lid back on over it, trapping the towel.
Allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
Fluff with a fork & serve.

Brighten the flavour & presentation with some fresh flat-leaf parsley.
Sprinkle Aleppo pepper flakes for an extra burst of colour, heat & flavour.

[1]Generally, anywhere from Greece right round to Morocco uses a variation on this method.
[2] Both will add a similar colour, but tomato adds sweetness & harissa adds spicy heat.

  • Ok, so if I understand correctly, what I was missing was to put in the tomato paste during the sauteing part and not during the cooking part? – Guss Oct 26 '19 at 7:40
  • Possibly so. Sautéing the grain is also important, though - it changes how it reacts with the water somehow & keeps everything separate & nicely glistening at the end, rather than dull & clumped. – Tetsujin Oct 26 '19 at 7:50
  • 1
    Yep, I have been doing that, but I only added the tomatoes during the cooking part. I will try that, thanks! – Guss Oct 26 '19 at 7:56

Maybe it was chili oil and not tomato-based? That was always my impression at Sosta in Raleigh, but just a guess!

  • In my case it was definitely tomato based and not spicy, but using chili oil is something I'd need to try - thanks :-) – Guss May 3 '20 at 12:44

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