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How to make this couscous from Lebanon

Morocco may provide the inspiration but the Levant has made this hearty feast all its own
Mograbieh is one of Lebanon's major feast dishes and perfect for festivals (@ranas_kitchen_lab/Instagram)

Mograbieh is a delicious dish, made of rolled semolina pearls that are then cooked in a meat or chicken broth. It is the Lebanese version of Moroccan “couscous” - the word "mograbieh", when translated into English, means “from Morocco”.

It is also one of Lebanon's major feast dishes, made to be enjoyed by a crowd at social occasions. That makes it perfect for Ramadan as well as other festivals. What really gives this dish a distinct kick is its use of earthy spices such as ground cinnamon and caraway.

Making Mograbieh consists of two separate stages: cooking the meat; then cooking the mograbieh pearls in the meat broth. Together they combine to complement each other and produce a hearty meal that satisfies all tastes.


Recipe

Servings: 6

Preparation time: 30 mins, also 40 mins cooking

Garnish with big chunks of chicken, either whole or deboned (@ranas_kitchen_lab/Instagram)

1. Ingredients

  • 300g (10½oz) dry mograbieh
  • 200g (1 cup) chickpeas (soaked in water overnight)
  • 12 baby onions peeled
  • 1 onion for cooking the chicken
  • 1 kg (2.2lbs) chicken (whole or cut into pieces)
  • aromatic bunch (bay leave, cinnamon stick, whole cardamom, black pepper, clove)
  • water
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp caraway
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt + salt for cooking chicken
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 3 tbsps vegetable oil
     
Add some kick with ground cinnamon and caraway (@ranas_kitchen_lab/Instagram)

2. Method

  1. Clean the chicken.
  2. In a pressure cooker, add the chicken and water (about five cups or 1.3l). Allow to simmer on a high heat.
  3. Remove from the surface any unwanted brown residue. Add the aromatic bunch and one tsp of salt. Close the pressure cooker and allow the chicken to cook for 20 mins on a medium heat.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, do the following...
    - Boil the water and soak the mograbieh pearls with a sprinkle of caraway and ground cinnamon for 20-30 mins, then strain.
    - In a large cooking tray or pan, saute the mograbieh pearls with butter, one tsp of vegetable oil, half of the spices and 1 tsp of salt.
  5. Fry the baby onions in a pan on a medium heat with two tsps of vegetable oil till they are browned.
  6. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pressure cooker and set aside.
  7. In the same pressure cooker cook the chickpeas for 15 mins.
  8. Open the pressure cooker - remember to completely release the pressure when opening the pot. Add the onions and the remaining spices. Close the pot and cook for an additional 5 mins.
  9. Gradually add scoops of chicken broth from the pot to the mograbieh pan, keeping the broth hot throughout the whole process. Allow the broth to be absorbed fully before adding another scoop.
  10. Allow it to simmer on a low heat. Add more broth as needed.
  11. The mograbieh pearls will take about 20 mins to fully cook. Add the cooked chickpeas, onions and a final scoop of chicken broth.
  12. Adjust the salt and cook on a low heat for another 20 mins.
  13. Serve ther dish hot and garnished with big chunks of chicken, either whole or deboned.

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