Moghrabieh is a Middle Eastern comfort food commonly prepared in Lebanese kitchens.
Moghrabieh, also known as maftoul, maghrabiyeh, ptitim and marma’oun features a savoury pasta couscous topped with roast chicken, chickpeas, sauteed vegetables and Middle Eastern spices.
Our traditional quick and easy Moghrabieh recipe features flavourful ingredients like olive oil, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, fennel seeds, onions, garlic, lemon and parsley.
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What is Moghrabieh?
Moghrabieh is one of the most popular comfort food dishes in Lebanese cuisine. It’s also know as Maftoul in Palestine.
Moghrabieh literally translates to “from Morocco.” Moghrabieh is both the name of the dough pearls as well as the name of the dish.
So Moghrabieh is both a dish, as well as an ingredient. Confused yet?
Moghrabieh are little round balls of pasta, often added to Middle Eastern soups, stews, salads or sauces. As you’ll learn from this recipe, they’re also great served alongside a piece of meat or fish.
The size of the grains, 2-3 mm in diameter, gives moghrabieh a great texture, because the uneven balls roll blissfully on the tongue, which really enhances the overall feasting experience.
Moghrabieh is significantly larger than North African couscous, and is similar in size to Israeli couscous, but has a different preparation. Moghrabieh is similarly steamed as North African couscous and often served on special occasions in a chicken broth with chickpeas and roast chicken.
Unlike couscous, which can turn mushy if soaked for too long, moghrabieh can be boiled in salted water, like other pasta, until tender but still retaining a desirable al dente bite. It can also be cooked using the absorption method (such as a homemade stock) just as you’d cook rice. And much like couscous, it can also be steamed over liquid, which gives a fluffier, lighter consistency.
What Pasta To Use For Moghrabieh?
If you can’t find Lebanese Moghrabieh pasta at your local grocery store or Middle Eastern market feel free to substitute with Israeli couscous.
We also like to use Italian fregola, a pasta from Sardinia.
Travel to the Middle East by Cooking Moghrabieh at Home
I love traveling to the Middle East and North Africa.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Moghrabieh via adventures that had me zig-zagging through Morocco, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Dubai. You guessed it! Some of my fondest food memories while traveling in the Middle East feature a steaming platter of Lebanese Moghrabieh.
I ate a steaming bowl of Moghrabieh at a traditional Moroccan riad, on food tours of Istanbul and Bodrum, accompanied by Egyptian tea on a Nile Cruise and in bustling market in Cairo, late night snack in Amman, al fresco market lunch in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and at a massive Middle Eastern barbecue in the middle of the Dubai desert while belly dancers twirled under the night sky.
Where To Eat Authentic Moghrabieh
If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Middle Eastern restaurant that serves traditional Moghrabieh.
Haven’t traveled to the Middle East before? It may be helpful to first sample Lebanese Moghrabieh at a local restaurant to better understand how the entree is served. You’ll get an idea for the desired spice level, couscous to chicken ratio and variety of vegetables. You’ll also find inspiration on what to pair with Moghrabieh such as such as falafel, fatayer, manakish and sfiha.
In Toronto, popular Middle Eastern restaurants that may serve a traditional Moghrabieh include Parallel, Byblos, Tabule, Fat Pasha, Maha’s, Masrawy Kitchen and Paramount Fine Foods.
My Family Loves Lebanese Couscous
When my family moved to Oakville the first restaurant we visited was a local Egyptian and Lebanese restaurant called Agabi. Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Oakville, Agabi, became our family’s go-to Middle Eastern take out joint.
After falling in love with Middle Eastern food at home, we enjoyed vacations to the region, feasting on endless bowls of hummus, falafel stuffed pita and roast chicken topped Moghrabieh.
My family enjoys preparing this easy Moghrabieh recipe in the colder fall and winter months as its hearty and heart-warming. During the autumn harvest season in Ontario, it’s easy to purchase freshly plucked onions, garlic and butternut squash, essential Moghrabieh ingredients.
Moghrabieh Recipe Health Benefits
Our homemade Moghrabieh recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
An excellent source of vitamin A and the phytochemical beta-carotene, carrots help keep your eyes and bones healthy, and may help protect against several types of cancer.
All varieties of pumpkin (or squash) are nutritious, but butternut squash is a superfood because it contains high levels of carotenoids, which help combat cancer and support skin health.
Beans are rich in cancer-fighting vitamin C, energy-boosting B vitamins, and gut-healthy fibre.
A rich source of phytochemicals and vitamin C, lemons help boost your immune system and neutralize free radicals that cause disease and skin aging. Lemons also protect against heart disease and help improve blood flow to the brain.
Chicken is high in protein and provides B vitamins such as niacin, which helps your body access the energy in foods.
Rich in energy-boosting manganese, cinnamon is also antibacterial and may protect your brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
A rich source of blood-building iron, cumin may also help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce bad cholesterol. It is also traditionally used as a digestive aid.
The star component of turmeric is curcumin, a potent phytochemical that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is often prescribed in Indian Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve arthritis, aid digestion and inhibit the growth of cancers.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
Whole wheat flour is rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than white flour.
Moghrabieh Recipe Tips
If it’s your first time cooking Moghrabieh at home be sure to review our detailed step-by-step recipe below. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started:
- We’ve used chicken legs in this recipe but you could also use chicken thighs. We prefer using brown meat as it is more flavourful and traditional. You could also use chicken breast but if you do make sure it’s bone-in an has skin so it doesn’t dry out.
- If you can’t find Moghrabieh pasta at your local grocery store try a Middle Eastern market. You can also use Israeli couscous or fregola pasta as a substitute.
- We’ve used carrots and squash in this recipe but you could also substitute for parsnips, pumpkin or sweet potatoes.
- If you want to elevate the dish before serving, why not sprinkle the Moghrabieh with toasted pine nuts or roasted almonds?
What To Serve with Lebanese Couscous
There’s nothing more comforting on a cold day then forking through a steaming platter of Chickpea Chicken Moghrabieh.
The Lebanese dish is most often served on its own as it incorporates carbs (pasta), vegetables (carrots, onions, squash) and protein (roast chicken).
If you’re hosting a large Middle Eastern-theme dinner party buffet you may want to add fresh salads, homemade soups, healthy dips and regional specialities like shawarma, kebab, toum and kibbeh.
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Storing Lebanese Couscous
If you have leftover Moghrabieh you can store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or reheat in the oven.
We love doubling our recipe so we can store leftovers in the freezer and save time on cooking in the kitchen. We suggest storing leftover Moghrabieh in Pyrex freezer safe containers that have a snug lid.
Be sure to let the dish reach room temperature before storing it in the freezer. If you add a hot container to a cold freezer it will significantly reduce the interior temperature and potentially spoil your food.
How To Make The Best Moghrabieh Recipe
Moghrabieh Lebanese Chickpea Chicken Couscous
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- mixing bowl
- baking sheet
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon
- 2 lb Chicken legs (approximately 4)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1.5 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground Coriander
- 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 0.75 tsp Ground Turmeric
- 2 tsp Fennel Seeds crushed
- 3 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 Onions cut into wedges
- 2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 0.5 tsp White sugar
- 2 Carrots peele and sliced
- 400 g Butternut squash peeled, seeded, cut into chunks
- 1 14 oz can Cooked chickpeas
- 10 Garlic cloves sliced
- 3 cups Chicken stock
- 1 2/3 cup Fregola Pasta
- 2 tbsp Lemon juice
- 1/4 cup Parsley chopped
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- Place the chicken in a large bowl and add olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and generous grind of black pepper. Toss to coat, the transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, skin side up.
- Put the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and fennel seeds into a small bowl and mix to combine. Sprinkle a quarter of the spice mix over the chicken. Roast for 45 minutes, or browned and cooked through.
- To assemble the moghrabieh, while the chicken is roasting in the oven, put the oil in a large pot, and place over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute so they cook evenly.
- Add the tomato paste and sugar and cook for one minute. Add the carrots and squash and cook for 3 minutes, stirring to ensure the vegetables cook evenly. Add the chickpeas, remaining spice mix, garlic and stock.
- Bring to boil, then reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Cook on low simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through.
- Make sure to reserve the stock, strain the vegetables and set them aside. Return the stock to the pot then add the pasta and bring to boil.
- Decrease the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente. Turn off the heat and set aside for 10 minutes, with the pot still covered.
- Fluff the pasta with a fork and add vegetables to the pot, along with lemon juice and parsley.
- Spoon the moghrabieh into a large and deep serving dish. Top with roast chicken legs, sprinkle with remaining parsley and serve hot.
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