Ptitim (Hebrew: פתיתים) is an Israeli toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls. Outside of Israel it is known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous.
"Ptitim" were invented during the austerity period in Israel, when rice was scarce, in order to provide for the needs of the Mizrahi immigrants, for whom rice was a dietary staple. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, asked Eugen Propper, one of the founders of the Osem food company, to quickly devise a wheat-based substitute to rice. Consequently, it was nicknamed "Ben-Gurion's Rice" by the people. The company took up the challenge and developed ptitim, which is made of hard wheat flour and roasted in an oven. The product was instantly a success, after which ptitim made in the shape of small, dense balls (which the company termed "couscous") was added to the original rice-shaped ptitim.
Ptitim is popular among Israeli children, who eat it plain, or mixed with fried onion and tomato paste. Ptitim are now produced in ring, star and heart shapes for added appeal. For health conscious consumers, there are also whole-wheat and spelt flour ptitim.
While considered a children's food in Israel, elsewhere in the world Israeli couscous is treated as an ingredient for "trendy delicacies". In the United States, it can be found on the menus of contemporary American chefs and can be bought in gourmet markets.
Ptitim can be used in many different types of dishes, both hot and cold. They retain their shape and texture even when reheated, and unlike traditional North African couscous, they don't clump together as much.
Commonly, ptitim is prepared, with sautéed onions or garlic (vegetables, meat, chicken or sausages can also be added), the ptitim is then added, and fried for a short time before adding water. Ptitim can also be used as a substitute for pasta or rice. They can also go in soup, can be baked, can be served as a pie, or made as a risotto. American chef Charlie Trotter also gave a recipe for ptitim with spinach, artichoke, and Kalamata olives.
Pearl shaped ptitim is somewhat similar to the Levantine pearled couscous known as Maftoul or Mograbieh in Lebanon. It is also similar to the Kabyle Abazine and the Sardinian Fregula. Rice shaped ptitim is similar to Orzo.
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Petit ptitim, fr.jpost.com
Newly Obsessed With Israeli Couscous, blogs.smithsonianmag.com