Vegan Couscous Moghrabieh

Vegan Couscous Moghrabieh

Vegan Couscous Moghrabieh

My sister in law surprised me with a vegan version of the Lebanese dish called Moghrabieh.

Moghrabieh is the Arabic word for giant couscous or pearl couscous and is also the name of the dish. The word Moghrabieh literally means “from the countries of the Maghreb” (which are Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria).

Pearl couscous is made of rolled semolina and becomes soft and chewy pasta balls when cooked. They are great at absorbing the flavors of the dish they are cooked in. You can find it at any Middle-Eastern market.

This stew-type dish is made with pearl couscous, small boiling onions, garbanzo beans, cinnamon, caraway, salt, black pepper, bay leaf, allspice or a spice called 7 spices (also found in Middle Eastern markets). Some markets even have a spice called “Moghrabieh” in their spice rack.

The traditional version is made with chicken and chicken broth.

INGREDIENTS: 6 servings

  • 1 pound (1/2 kilo or 500 g.) of dry Moghrabieh
  • 3/4 pound of small boiling onions
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can of cooked chickpeas
  • Spice mix: 1 1/2 tbsp of ground caraway and 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon, 1 tsp of allspice or seven-spice mix, and salt and white pepper to taste, 1 tsp of cumin (optional). For flavoring the chicken: one cinnamon stick, a bay leaf, a carrot
    olive oil or clarified butter, as needed

NOTE: Middle-Eastern stores will have a spice mix called Moghrabieh in their spice rack.


  1. Clean the chicken, season it with some allspice, salt, pepper; brown it in a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven as well as the large onion. Pour 8 cups of water over the chicken, add a cinnamon stick, bay leaf and carrot, and let it simmer gently for at least one hour, skimming the froth at the surface. This step could be done the day before.
  2. Peel and brown the small boiling onions in some oil (or better yet, clarified butter)until the onions are evenly browned on all sides. Strain the chicken, keeping the bouillon simmering gently in a large pot or saucepan. Add the chickpeas and boiling onions and half the spices to the chicken bouillon. Take apart the chicken, dumping bones and skin; cut the chicken meat into large pieces and set them aside on a plate.
  3. Boil the moghrabieh in a large pot filled with salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil or butter and fry the moghrabieh in the oil on very low heat, adding the rest of the spices for 5 minutes. Gradually add to the moghrabieh several ladles of chicken bouillon (about 2 1/2 cups) and keep over low heat simmering gently and stirring the moghrabieh from time to time with a wooden spoon until the grains feel soft and thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes (make sure to taste it and do not overcook it). Add to the moghrabieh one cup of the chickpeas and one cup of the small boiling onions, leaving the rest for the sauce.
  4. Boil down the remainder of the broth until you have 3 cups left; add about 3 tablespoons of cornstarch diluted in a little water to the steaming broth and stir to thicken it. Keep a few chickpeas and onions in the sauce and serve in a separate saucer with the moghrabieh. Serve the moghrabieh with the chicken pieces, chick peas and onions and have the warm sauce available in a separate saucer.

Original Recipe

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