From the grocery shelves this month we are focusing on the grains and pulses that are used widely in the Mediterranean region to provide texture and bulk to some dishes. Grains such as Farro are very old cultivars that are being rediscovered but to some degree have always been there being used by those with little money. Moghrabieh is the Lebanese equivalent of couscous and is made from semolina flour, water and salt. Very dense the small balls are rolled semolina grains which would be purchased freshly made if we were in situ. For us back here in New Zealand we can buy dried Moghrabieh to enjoy. Considered an addition to a real feasting meal, it is on show on the tables of cooks in Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon.
Cooking Moghrabieh takes a bit of work but it is better and certainly more tasty for the effort.
Toast the moghrabieh for 3 to 5 minutes in the oil or butter, swirling the pan frequently to ensure that the pearls are evenly coated in the oil. They should smell toasty and aromatic.
Pour in 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, for every cup of moghrabieh, and stir. Bring the pot up to a boil, then turn it down again until it’s just simmering gently. Season with salt and pepper, and cover the pan.
Simmer the moghrabieh for 10 to 15 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally, until all the visible liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, and let it sit for 5 minutes.
Enjoy with really traditional dishes of lamb and game birds as part of a Lebanese feast.