Discovering grains of truth

Bahia Lynch and Liz Kettle 'The Cous Cous Ladies
Bahia Lynch and Liz Kettle 'The Cous Cous Ladies

As a child, growing up in Algeria, Bahia Lynch learned how to make couscous the traditional way. Now she is passing on the secret to diners in her adopted home city.

Bahia and business partner Liz Kettle are staging a ‘show and tell’ session before their next Absolutely Couscous evening at the Harland Café, John Street, on Saturday.

“I learned how to make and cook couscous from my mum,” says Bahia. “It’s always steamed, never ever boiled. I steam it twice, because that’s the way I was taught.”

The staple food of western North Africa, its name comes from ‘kiskis’, the perforated steamer in which it is cooked.

On Saturday Bahia will demonstrate how raw wheat semolina is sprayed with salted water, then rubbed and rolled into grains. It is then sieved in three stages, through progressively smaller holes, to form a uniform grain – which is left to dry in the sun for up to five days before storing.

“Today modern couscous factories do all of this by machine, including the drying process. But there are still some folk in Algeria, including my mum and her friends, who make couscous from scratch,” she says.

Bahia’s couscous will be served to accompany a three-course meal of deep-fried bourak, followed by courgettes stuffed with spiced lamb, and borlotti beans in tomato sauce, and finally sweet almond pastries with mint tea.

Tickets are £18 from the Harland Café (0114) 273 8553.

Lesley Draper