Cuzcuz, cuscus, cuscuz, or couscous? Well, it all depends… Mostly in America, we have adapted the semolina version of it and call it couscous. Brazilians have their version of the dish made with corn. It looks more like an airy, light, and flaky precooked corn meal or flour known as Flocão. The corn meal is seasoned with salt and cooked over a steaming pot called cuzcuzeira. I am not sure why we chose three different types of spellings but I have a feeling that somehow a long, long, long time ago Africans and Portuguese people had something to do with it.
Typically at home cuzcuz (that is how I grew up saying it) was served for breakfast with steamed coconut milk, scrambled eggs or queijo de qualho. Any leftovers would be transformed into a farofa de cuzcuz.
You would be amazed how that for less than a dollar package of this ordinary ingredient could become precious like gold, in the hands of creative chefs in Brazil. Why is that? It’s because cuzcuz is so versatile in so many ways that you have the flexibility to serve it sweet or salty.
Since I received my Cuzcuzeira as a gift from my sister, and happened to bring a few packs of cuzcuz from my last trip to Brazil a few weeks ago, I decided to give it a try and remind my children how delicious cuzcuz can be for breakfast.
I don’t recall making cuzcuz growing up since we had a wonderful cook that made very special meals for my family. In my missionary days, I had to learn how to make simple dishes and cuzcuz was cheap, nutritional, and easy.
So, I decided to give it a try and I served a very traditional northeast breakfast to my very-open-to-try-new-food kids. Nobody was jumping up and down with joy, except me, but they both had positive things to say and I ended up with more cuzcuz for me than I expected.
Northeast Brazilian Couscous
- 2 cups Flocão
- 1 cup water
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cuzcuzeira
In a bowl mix the Flocão, water and salt, let it rest for 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture from the bowl to the cuscuzeira and let the Flocão to cook for about 12 minutes. Turn of the stove and let it rest for 3 minutes before you remove it from the mold the cuzcuz.
Cuzcuz brought me so many good memories that day. The smell, color, and texture and warm coconut milk being poured over it. Every slice and bite… It was just so warm and cozy, and I enjoyed every minute of it. A simple dish, a simple moment, just made my heart smile that morning.
Ironically it was snowing hard and I smiled even more with the thought that I was definitely experiencing the best of both worlds.
I would love to hear from you sometime. How about now! What is the one simple thing that makes you smile?