During any visit to the Lebanese wholesaler Harkola, we’re likely to hear someone calling for Barbara. And that’s because she’s wonderful – she knows how much the dates are, she knows where to find the pearl barley and, as we found out on our last visit, she knows a great recipe for moghrabieh.
Moghrabieh is Lebanese couscous – an unusually firm pasta which needs to be boiled in water for up to half an hour before it can be eaten. Harkola are the Australian importers, which means a kilo packet from them costs $4, as opposed to the $11 I’ve seen it on sale for in local foodie stores.
When Barbara saw me putting a packet of moghrabieh into our trolley, she offered me her recipe, commonly eaten in the Lebanese community as a late breakfast. Here are the instructions as they were told to me..
1. Soak a large quantity of dried chick peas overnight, then boil them in a large pot with plenty of salted water until just tender. (I added salt at the end, as I didn’t want to toughen the skins). Drain well. Tinned chick peas can also be used, drain them well, but don’t rinse them.
2. Bring another large pot of salted water to the boil, and cook the moghrabieh until soft (this took about 25 minutes), but not mushy. Drain well and sprinkle over with a good pinch each of ground caraway, ground cinnamon and ground allspice.
3. In a large frying pan or saute pan, fry a large quantity of sliced onion until soft in plenty of oil, then add both the chick peas and moghrabieh and toss to combine and heat through. Season with more salt to taste. Serve warm with pita bread.
One thing I should mention – Barbara’s instruction was to use the whole packet of moghrabieh. Now, that’s probably fine if you’re feeding a large extended family, but in our case, it resulted in an enormous quantity of food which needed to be shared out to friends and neighbours. The flavour of the dish is subtle and delicious, with a lovely sweetness from the fried onions. I added more of the ground spices during the frying process, but they didn’t seemed to overpower the dish. This is definitely a recipe we’ll make again!