A lot of people do not actually know what Couscous is.
Is it a grain?
Is it a pasta?
Is it type of wheat?
Thankfully, Aaron Hutchinson, over at the Washington Post explored this question more fully. Although others I have spoken to in the industry disagree with his conclusions.
His answer can be summarised as - it is complicated, but:
Traditional pre-cooked Couscous can be placed in a category all its own and potentially dates back all the way to the 14th century. Often it is called Moroccan Couscous. You can fluff it up and it is having historically been more widely used.
Pearl Couscous has been used interchangeably with Morgrabia, which is a smaller market but popular in Lebanon and its overseas communities - including here in Australia. It is typically larger than Israeli Couscous, also often called Pearl Couscous.
Israeli couscous was invented in the 1950's to replace Rice during shortages and was changed then changed to its current shape and popularised in the US in the 1990's. Technically it should be called Toasted Pearl Couscous as the cooking process if done properly included flame toasting. In Israel it is a kid's food, in other countries it has been adopted in more sophisticated recipes.
On pre-cooked traditional Couscous - often called medium grain it is all about:
Where was the durum semolina wheat sourced from and what is its protein content? A satisfactory level is around 13%.
On pearl couscous - often called Israeli Couscous it is all about:
Is it cooked using a flame toaster, or extruded from a die?
How fresh is the product?
For example, our manufacturer of Pearl couscous is the only manufacturer outside of Israel who uses a flame toaster.
When it comes to Kosher, Halal, Organic and Manufacturing Quality Certificates they all come in handy - but the proof is in the pudding. The United States has some of the largest communities of strictly kosher and halal consumers and our manufacturer came into the market to serve them at scale.