Israeli Jewelry - Israel Gifts
Ptitim, is a staple of the Israeli school lunch menu, the steady side dish .
This Israeli toasted pasta now comes in many shapes, including stars, loops and hearts, but originally was shaped like grains of rice.
In any case, ptitim are now known as Israeli couscous — and this lunchroom fave has since been rediscovered as a versatile carb that can be boiled like pasta or first fried with onions and then cooked in boiling water or stock.
Ptitim (Hebrew: Ptitim Afuyim, "baked flakes", commonly ptitim) is wheat-based baked pasta, originally produced in the shape of elongated rice grains and today mostly in the shape of round pearls. Nicknamed "Ben Gurion's Rice" in Israel, it is known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous in the United States and elsewhere and is one of the foods considered to be a unique Israeli culinary contribution.
Ptitim was invented during the austerity period in Israel, when rice was scarce and in order to provide the needs of the Mizrahi immigrants, whose diets were largely made up of rice and couscous.
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 agreed to the challenge and developed ptitim, which is made of hard wheat flour and roasted in an oven. The product was instantly a success and not too long after ptitim made in the shape of small, dense balls (which the company termed "couscous") was added to the original rice-shaped ptitim.
Ptitim is generally considered as a food for children, who sometimes have them plain, and other times with bit of fried onion, tomato paste, some spices for flavour and some vegetables. It is often served as a side dish to children along with schnitzel or another main course. About a decade ago, because of the young target audience of ptitim, ptitim was produced in the shape of rings and stars as well.
In addition, special limited-editions are offered, such as heart-shaped ptitim. Due to health conscious consumers, ptitim is now also sold made of whole-wheat flour or even spelt flour.
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.
Similar to pasta, ptitim is filling, and can be used in many different types of dishes, both hot and cold. Since they're of a small shape, they take less time to cook than pasta, taking about 6 minutes. Also, due to their small surface area, they can have a lot of sauce on them. In addition, ptitim tend to retain their shape and texture even if kept warm for a while or reheated, as well, unlike traditional tiny grains of North African couscous, they don't clump together as much.
Commonly, ptitim is prepared, with sautéd 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 chefs have been experimenting with this type of pasta since the early 1950s. Over the past few years there has been a sudden boom to explore this culinary favorite.