Lebanese moghrabieh (pearl couscous) is small pearls of wheat pasta with spices, chickpeas and caramelised onions. This Mograbieh is a vegan Lebanese recipe, also suitable for vegetarians, which can be served either in a broth or in a wrap.
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What is Moghrabieh?
Moghrabieh is from the Arabic word Maghreb which translate to "West" which is where couscous originated from - Africa.
Mograbieh are pearl couscous, the larger couscous variety, which is a type of wheat pasta.
It can be made with either beef, lamb or chicken or vegetables and enjoyed as a stew or in a wrap.
In Lebanon, Moghrabieh is popular street food, which is referred to as Lebanese couscous in English. It can be found sold by cart vendors.
How to pronounce moghrabieh?
Moghrabieh is actually an easy word to say - mogh·rah·bee·yeh The “gh” is fused together.
What is pearl couscous? What is Moghrabieh made of?
Pearl couscous (Mograbieh) is a type of pasta. It is made from durum wheat, which is rolled into little balls.
It is easily found in continental stores/Middle Eastern grocers as the dry variety (same as common pasta)
Across the Middle East it can also be found sold in wet form.
I wrote a quick article about is couscous vegan? Which might be of interest to you.
😋Why You'll Love This Recipe
- This mograbieh without meat has bold flavorings that the whole family will love
- Requires inexpensive ingredients and is ready in approximately 30 minutes cooking time
- Dietary friendly - suitable for vegan and vegetarians
- A hearty, warm and filling meal that can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner
🥘 Mograbieh Ingredients
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
Dry moghrabieh (affiliate link) aka pearl couscous can easily be found at your local Middle Eastern grocer or online.
If you've never cooked pearl couscous before, these are a type of pasta and will double in size when cooked.
Small onions (French shallots or boiling onions) are peeled and left whole.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) you can use dry chickpeas, you will just need to cook them prior to using them in this recipe.
Vegetable stock is used to cook the pearl couscous but also for flavoring. Please leave ½-1 cup as a reserve, as you may wish to add more and make this soupier.
Ground Caraway is the largest flavoring component in moghrabieh, it is a very fragrant spice. Do not skip.
Ground cinnamon, black pepper and cumin all add to the unique flavoring of this dish.
Lebanese 7 spice is a blend of spices that is widely used in Lebanese cooking. Allspice is a great alternative. Or learn how to make your own fresh blend of Lebanese 7 spice
Salt to taste - this is optional and depends on the type of stock you use
Olive oil and dairy free butter (50:50 ratio)
🔪How to Cook Moghrabieh
Step one - Peel onions and set aside
Step two - Wash (canned) chickpeas thoroughly and allow to drain, set aside.
Step three - In a pot over high heat, heat dairy-free butter and oil, stir through onions, and sweat until translucent and golden brown. Approximately 5 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
Take them out of the pot and set them aside. N.B., caramelizing them adds to the flavoring of this meal.
Step four - In the same pot, add Moghrabieh (pearl couscous) and the stock cook for 15 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally to avoid moghrabieh sticking.
At this point the pearl couscous will be slightly undercooked.
Step five - Add chickpeas, browned onions and spices. Coat everything evenly, then add 1½ cups of stock. Turn heat to low-med, cover with a lid and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm, either in a bowl or in a wrap.
You may wish to add salt to taste and if you would like it to be more soup-like, add another ½ - 1 cup of water/stock.
This moghrabieh recipe should take approximately 30 minutes to cook, a much quicker version than the versions with meat.
This moghrabieh recipe should be glistening when done, however as the pearls cool down, they will continue to soak in the juices and will not be as glistening.
Save the brine (aquafaba) so many uses for this amazing water, e.g., Vegan Meringue with Rose Water
If you would like to add a bit of color to your vegan Lebanese moghrabieh, try adding small chunks of carrot, which can be added in with the chickpeas.
Moghrabieh can be enjoyed two ways;
1. In its spiced broth, served in a bowl, like a very thick soup.
2. Or in a wrap (sandwich), a highly popular food in Tripoli, Lebanon.
The cooked pearl couscous with chickpeas are placed inside Lebanese bread (pita bread - see video), along with Middle Eastern pickles and then wrapped up to be enjoyed immediately.
Both ways can be enjoyed with a side of salad such as rocca salad or beetroot salad or a side of fresh fattoush salad or try this cabbage salad called Kupus Salata with moghrabieh, it pairs really well.
Moghrabieh can be purchased from any middle-eastern grocer, some local supermarkets also stock pearl couscous or you can buy moghrabieh online (affiliate link).
Maftoul is the small variety of couscous, known as couscous. Moghrabieh is the large variety of couscous, known as pearl couscous. They are both types of pasta.
No. It is made from durum wheat which contains gluten.
You're in luck! There are companies that do sell a gluten free version. You just need to google search them.
🥄Other vegan Lebanese recipes
- Looking for more vegan Lebanese wraps? You'll love my vegan shish tawook sandwich
- Maftoul Salad - another fabulous couscous recipe, a Palestinian inspired fresh salad creation
- Bulgur pilav - a wholesome burgal in a fresh tomato base - a whole grain couscous alternative.
- Ghallaba is a veggie saute that also uses Lebanese 7 spice.
- Another Lebanese meal with chickpeas is Musabaha
Did you enjoy making this recipe? I would love to hear from you, leave me a comment below and give me a ★★★★★ rating. If you love sharing your vegan food pics, join the PBF community group
Lebanese Pearl Couscous (Moghrabieh)
- 1 cup Dry moghrabieh aka pearl couscous
- 4 cups Vegetable stock 2½ cups to cook moghrabieh and then 1½ cups to add later. You may wish to have a reserve ½ - 1 cup, see notes.
- 10 small Onions either French shallot or boiling onions peeled and left whole.
- 2 cups Chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon Ground Caraway
- ½ teaspoon Ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice allspice is a great alternative
- ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dairy free butter
- 1 pinch Salt or to taste
- Peel onions and set aside10 small Onions
- Wash chickpeas thoroughly and allow to drain, set aside2 cups Chickpeas
- In a pot over high heat, heat dairy free butter and oil, stir through onions and sweat until translucent and golden brown. Approximately 5 minutes with lid on, stirring occasionally. Take them out of the pot and set them aside.1 tablespoon Olive oil, 1 tablespoon Dairy free butter
- In the same pot, add Moghrabieh (pearl couscous) and 2½ cups of vegetable stock, cook for 15 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally to avoid moghrabieh sticking to the bottom of the pot.1 cup Dry moghrabieh, 4 cups Vegetable stock
- Add chickpeas, browned onions and spices. Coat everything evenly, then add 1½ cups of stock. Turn heat to low-med, cover with lid and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve warm, either in a bowl or in a wrap.You may wish to add salt to taste and if you would like it to be more soup like, add another ½ - 1 cup of water/stock.1 tablespoon Ground Caraway, ½ teaspoon Ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice, ½ teaspoon Ground Cumin, ½ teaspoon Black pepper
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
Absolutely delicious. I used a cinnamon stick instead of ground and added 2 bay leaves to the vegetable stock as a variation, and it was equally delicious. Thank you!!!
That sounds delicious!! Thank you for making moghrabieh.