Sue tasted moghrabieh for the first time at a very young age, when her mum’s neighbours brought a plate of it over to their house, following a cultural Lebanese tradition of exchanging plates of food between neighbours. The whole family loved it, and her mum asked for the recipe. Sue has kept ever since and proudly put in her book, Tayta’s Lebanese kitchen.
Skill level Mid
2 cups (340 g) pearl couscous (moghrabieh)
4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
½ cup dried chickpeas, or 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
500 g leg lamb chops (about 4 chops), trimmed and cut in half
1 tsp salt, or to taste
2 cinnamon quills
40 g butter
10 small pickling onions, peeled
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp Lebanese mixed spices
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground caraway
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.
Combine moghrabieh and chicken stock, cover and soak overnight in the refrigerator. If using dried chickpeas, soak in water overnight. Once chickpeas are soaked, drain, then simmer gently in a large saucepan of water until tender, 45 minutes – 1½ hours depending on chickpeas.
Place the lamb, 5 cups (1.25 litres) water, salt and cinnamon in a medium saucepan, bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour, removing any scum from the surface, or until tender.
After 40 minutes of simmering, heat half the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it starts to turn golden brown, add the pickling onions and fry for a few minutes, or until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and add to the lamb saucepan. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until tender, then remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm. Reserve cooking liquid.
Meanwhile, drain the moghrabieh and heat the remaining butter in a large saucepan. Add the moghrabieh and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chickpeas and pickling onions and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the stock from the lamb, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture sticking to the pan. Add the black pepper, Lebanese spices, cumin and caraway, stir well to combine and remove from the heat.
Transfer the moghrabieh to a large serving dish, arrange the lamb and onions on top and garnish with the ground cinnamon. Serve with a jug of extra meat stock if you wish.
• You can also fry 250 g chicken breast fillet strips (about 6 cm x 3 cm) in 2 tablespoons butter for about 3 minutes on each side and arrange them on top of the moghrabieh with the lamb and onions. Lebanese mixed spices available at Lebanese food shops.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Michelle Noerianto.