Moghrabieh is a type of large couscous or pearl couscous that is used in this traditional Lebanese stew. Of all of the pearl couscous recipes out there, this one is the best. This moghrabieh recipe is made with juicy tender shredded chicken, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), pearl onions, Lebanese couscous (moghrabieh) and warm Middle Eastern spices. It is a kind of comforting Lebanese soup.Jump to Recipe
Lebanese Moghrabieh- Chicken moghrabrieh
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Lebanese family, and maybe I’m a little bit partial, but IMO Lebanese cooking is the BEST of all comfort food! That is true with this Moghrabieh recipe as well. It is warm and comforting. The flavors and textures work together so well! I just want to sit down by the fire and enjoy this Moghrabieh with chicken on a quiet evening.
The essence of this Lebanese stew, is family and spending time together. This Lebanese couscous recipe can also be made with lamb, but it is very common to make it with chicken.
It is such a well balanced and hearty meal and is perfect for any family get together, or just for a family dinner time, and it is an easy recipe!
To some, this recipe may seem a little but foreign, but only because this recipe calls for Lebanese couscous or large couscous pearls. But no worries! You will love it!
And if you are wondering what exactly IS Lebanese food, check out this article >> A Guide to Lebanese Cuisine
If you are looking for healthy and tasty recipes, you need more Lebanese food in your life. Not only is Lebanese food absolutely AMAZING, it is healthy and follows the Mediterranean Diet!
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What is moghrabieh?
Moghrabieh is the name of large pearl couscous as well as the name of this traditional Lebanese dish. It is Lebanese couscous.
What is moghrabieh made out of?
Moghrabieh pearls are large couscous balls made from semolina wheat (durum), which is a whole grain. They are a kind of pasta and when cooked, they add texture to a dish. Moghrabieh literally translates to “from the moghreb” or “from Morocco” and has different spellings: mograbieh, mograbiah and moughrabieh.
It comes packaged dry and to prepare moghrabieh, it is boiled in chicken broth for 15-20 minutes until tender and slightly chewy. After they absorb all of the cooking liquid, these semolina pearls become about the size of a pea.
Where to buy moghrabieh?
Moghrabieh pearls can be found at your local Mediterranean store and can also easily be found online. Check it on Amazon out below!
What can I substitute for Lebanese pearl couscous?
You can substitute Israeli couscous for Moghrabieh if you are unable to find any. Since this recipe needs pearled couscous for texture, do not substitute normal couscous, since it is much smaller and will not turn out well.
Is mogrhabieh healthy?
Lebanese moghrabieh is very healthy! This chicken moghrabieh dish is high in protein and the Lebanese couscous pearls are a great source of healthy whole grain.
Is mogrhabieh gluten free?
Since Moghrabieh pearls are made out of semolina wheat, they are not gluten free. You may substitute with quinoa if you want to make this moghrabieh recipe gluten free.
Lebanese couscous vs Israeli couscous?
Moghrabieh and Israeli couscous are different from each other. Both are similar, are made from semolina wheat, and are larger than normal couscous, however Lebanese couscous (moghrabieh couscous) is considered large pearl couscous, or giant couscous. It is even larger than Israeli couscous pearls.
How to cook Moghrabieh
Cooking this moghrabieh recipe has 2 different parts: cooking the chicken/chicken broth and cooking the mogrhabieh pearls. Lebanese moghrabieh pearls are first boiled and drained, then they are cooked almost like risotto by adding chicken stock.
Since the Lebanese couscous pearls will continue to absorb liquid, the chicken and the moghrabieh pearls are cooked separately and then combined in the individual bowls for serving. This is to avoid overcooking the Lebanese coucous and to make sure that it maintains the right texture.
Cooking the chicken for Lebanese moghrabieh
For this recipe, you can use chicken legs and thighs, boneless skinless chicken thighs, or a split chicken breast. I personally like to use the split chicken breast, since it makes good chicken stock and shreds well when cooked. If I am in a hurry, I use boneless skinless chicken thighs.
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, brown the chicken pieces, Lebanese 7 spices (substitute with ground cinnamon and ground black pepper), and chopped onions in butter or olive oil making sure to brown it on all sides.
After the chicken is browned add the water, salt, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves and bay leaves to the pot. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Skim the fat from the top, remove the chicken and shred it or cut it into pieces, discarding the skin and bones. Remove the whole spices as well.
If you use bone-in chicken, you will get some really great chicken stock.
For the moghrabieh spices, mix together the caraway, ground cinnamon, Lebanese 7 spices, salt and ground black pepper. Add a little over half of the spice mixture into the chicken stock and save the rest for the moghrabieh pearls.
Now it’s time to add the pearled onions and the drained and rinsed garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to the chicken stock. Simmer for another 20 minutes or so while you move on to cooking the Lebanese moghrabieh balls. Add the chicken at the end to heat through.
If you have never had pearl onions before, they can be found in the frozen section of your local grocery store. One package is about 2 cups which is just what you need.
How to cook pearled couscous
The actual Lebanese Mogrhabieh Pearls are cooked and served separately from the chicken broth because they will continually soak up any liquid in which they cook. You can put them into the chicken broth if you prefer, but they will soak up most of the liquid and you will end up with softer couscous pearls. If you wish to avoid that, follow the steps below on how to cook Lebanese couscous…
Bring a large pot of water to boiling, add the dry moghrabieh couscous into the pot and boil for about 15 minutes. The Lebanese couscous pearls should get bigger and become softer with still a little bite to it, al dente.
Once it is cooked, Drain the water and add the rest of the moghrabieh spice mix to the moghrabieh pearls and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Over low to medium heat, sauté the large couscous pearls in the butter for several minutes.
Add a few ladles of the chicken broth to the couscous pearls one ladle at a time. Cook until they soak up most of the chicken liquid.
How to serve Moghrabieh
Now it’s time to serve this delicious Lebanese stew…
Add a ladle of the cooked couscous pearls into an individual serving bowl. Pour the chicken stew over the top of the moghrabieh pearls and eat! This goes really well with some fresh pita bread as well. Enjoy!
How else can I enjoy these couscous pearls?
Lebanese couscous balls can be boiled and also used in salads and as a side dish for other things. You can also make this mogrhabieh recipe with lamb or even with beef soup bones or oxtails.
Check out these other Lebanese recipes by A Pinch Of Adventure!
- Authentic Chicken Shawarma
- Baklawa – Lebanese Walnut Baklava
- Lebanese Kousa Squash (Stuffed Squash)
- Fattoush Salad
- Lebanese Hummus
- Mujaddara (Lebanese Lentils)
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Moghrabieh (Lebanese Moghrabieh with chicken)
For the chicken
- 1 2 lb split chicken breast or any preferred cut of chicken
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 8 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 ½ teas salt
- 2 cups pearl onions 1- 12 oz package frozen
- 1 15.5 oz can chickpeas aka garbanzo beans
- ½ of the moghrabieh spice mix (below) or a little more
Moghrabieh Spice Mix
- 1 teas ground caraway
- ¾ teas Lebanese 7 spices substitute ¼ t pepper and ¼ teas cinnamon
- ¾ teas ground cinnamon
- ¾ teas ground cumin
- ½ teas ground black
For the Mogrhabieh
- 2 cups dry mogrhabieh pearls 1 lb
- 8 cups water
- 3 tbsp butter or ghee
- 1 teas salt
- the rest of the moghrabieh spice mix
Boiling the chicken
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat
- Add the chicken, skin side down and the large diced onion and brown the chicken on each side 4-5 minutes until brown
- Add 8 cups of water to the pot with the chicken along with the whole spices and salt
- Simmer the chicken over medium heat until cooked through. Skim any fat from the top. Remove the chicken, discard the skin and the bones and cut or shred it into bite size pieces. Remove the whole spices.
- To the pot that had the chicken, add the pearled onions and the chickpeas (drained and rinsed), and a little over half of the moghrabieh spices. Continue to simmer while preparing the moghrabieh pearls (below) and add the chicken to heat through at the end
Cooking the moghrabieh couscous
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the moghrabieh pearls
- Boil the moghrabieh pearls uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender. Drain the mogrhabieh in a colander and add put them back into the pot
- Add the butter to the couscous pearls along with what's left of the moghrabieh spice mix and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes
- Spoon about 3-4 ladles of the chicken broth into the moghrabieh and let it soak up all of that flavor
- Keep the prepared moghrabieh and the chicken stew in separate pots while serving so that the Lebanese couscous does not soak up all of the liquid. In individual bowls, combine the moghrabieh and the chicken stew and serve