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MoughrabiyehMoughrabiyeh is a dish for special occasions prepared with very big grains of couscous very popular in Tripoli, the second largest town in the north of Lebanon. 

It is usually prepared with Samneh, which is Ghee or clarified butter to the west.

The recipe is prepared with olive oil for obvious health reasons.  The dish may be prepared with chicken only or meat only or with both.  It gets its distinctive taste from the spices being used especially the caraway.


Ingredients:  8 servings

300 g. lamb meat from the leg, cut to 2 cm. cubes

One chicken (1500g.), cut to 4, skin removed

One onion, finely chopped

1 small celery branch, finely chopped

1 small carrot, finely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon ground caraway

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoons sweet black pepper

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Moughrabiyeh spice mix (see note below)

¾ cup chick peas, soaked for 12 hours with 1 teaspoon baking soda, or 1½ cans (each 425g.) already cooked chick peas


For pearl onions

700 g. small size onions

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

Salt and freshly ground sweet black pepper 

For Moughrabiyeh grains

1¼ kg. steamed Moughrabiyeh or 3 cups dry (see note below for dry grains)

4 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoon Moughrabiyeh spice mix

2 teaspoon caraway

3 cups chicken stock from boiling the chicken and meat

For sauce 

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons ground caraway

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground sweet black pepper

2 teaspoons Moughrabiyeh spice mix

2½ cups stock from cooking the chicken and the meat


1. If dry chickpeas are being used, place them with cold water but no salt over medium heat and simmer uncovered till tender.  Drain.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and fry meat till colored.  Set aside.

3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and fry chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrots, add the ground spices and fry few seconds more. 

4. Add meat to the pan and enough cold water to cover.  Bring to the boil, lower heat, and cook ingredients covered 20 minutes.

5. Add chicken pieces and simmer covered till chicken and meat are tender, about 35 minutes more. 

6. Prepare the small onions and add them their juice and the chickpeas the last 10 minutes of cooking.

7. Strain the mixture.  Remove Chicken pieces and separate to big chunks, discarding bones.  Place chicken in a bowl and with the rest of the ingredients keep hot. You should end up with 5½ cups stock to cook the Moughrabiyeh and prepare sauce.

To prepare onions 

1.  Place onions in salted boiling water and simmer few seconds.  Drain, refresh in cold water, the peel leaving the stem base intact. 

2. Fry onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil till colored and browned.  Add sugar and fry a little to caramelize the sugar.   Add water to cover the onions, salt, and pepper and bring to the boil.  Cover pan and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or till onions are almost tender and a little liquid is left.

To prepare steamed Moughrabiyeh grains 

1. Mix steamed Moughrabiyeh with the spice mix and fry them 3 minute in butter while stirring.

2. Add the 3 cups chicken stock and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes or till the grains are tender and the stock is absorbed, stirring the mixture once or twice.  Keep covered for 10 minutes.

To prepare sauce

Fry the flour in the butter till lightly colored, add the spices and fry a little more.  Add the stock gradually stirring all the time till the sauce boils and thickens.  Simmer few seconds.

To serve

1.Mix about a quarter of the drained chick peas, and quarter of the onions with the Moughrabiyeh grains and add the rest of the chick peas and onions, and quarter of the meat to the hot sauce.  Place Moughrabiyeh on a serving plate.  Top with the chicken pieces and rest of the meat.  Sprinkle some ground caraway on top if desired. 

2. Serve hot with the hot sauce on the side.


If Moughrabiyeh spice mix is not available substitute with ¾ tablespoon ground caraway and ¼ tablespoon black sweet pepper.

To prepare dry Moughrabiyeh grains

Add 1 tablespoon oil to salted boiling water over medium heat. 

Drop 2 cups (400 g.) Moughrabiyeh grains and cook for 7 to 10 minutes. 

Drain and rinse under running cold water, and season with one tablespoon Moughrabiyeh spice mix. 

Heat 2 tablespoons butter and fry the grains for 3 minutes, stirring them and gradually adding 3½ cups chicken stock. 

Cover and simmer under low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes or till the grains are tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning.


© 2005 Cooking Courses Marlene Matar