Mograbieh is a large couscous/pasta in the shape of pearls. Similar products are known by various names – Ptitim, Israeli Couscous, Jerusalem Couscous, Pearl Couscous, Ben-Gurion rice, Maftoul, Lebanese Couscous, Giant Couscous, and more. It is also similar to the Kabyle Abazine and the Sardinian Fregula.
Although they can be used interchangeably, technically speaking, there are some differences between the products of different countries. Some are an extruded pasta, similar to Italian orzo, made with semolina and flour which is toasted to dry. This one has a nuttier flavour than normal couscous. One type is Ptitim, or Israeli Couscous, is a type of toasted pasta and shaped either like rice-grains or little balls and was developed in Israel in the 1950s when rice was scarce.
Others, like Mograbieh (Lebanese) and Maftoul (Palestinian), are rolled and dried large couscous pearls about the size of tapioca pearls, and when cooked they have a chewy buttery flavour and are larger than Israeli Couscous. These starchy pasta balls swell and become soft and chewy when cooked and are fantastic at absorbing the flavours of the dish they are cooked in.
Sadly, the globalisation of food has meant that differences get smoothed over, and names get mixed, or all the variations merge into one product. Locally, for a long time I was only able to find the extruded pasta type, but more recently a local Afghan shop stocks the best Mograbieh. The pics show the extruded type – I will update when I make this dish again.
For this recipe, a celebration of Spring, use any of these types, cook it with saffron and add broad beans and chilli. You can even use Italian orzo pasta or risoni if you wish.
Are you perhaps after Broad Bean recipes? Try Saffron and Cardamom Pilaf, Couscous and Chickpea Pilaf, French Braised Lettuce, Peas and Broad Beans, Fava Bean Puree with Dill, Glorious Five Bean Salad, and Tawa Broad Beans.
Mograbieh with Broad Beans | Pearl Couscous with Broad Beans
For a pilaf, cook moghrabieh or Israeli couscous (or a similar product) according to the packet directions, with several threads of saffron and vegetable stock or water. Toss through blanched and peeled broad beans, coriander leaves (cilantro), lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Add a little chopped green chilli if desired. Season with salt and pepper.
recipe notes and alternatives
Add some finely chopped spring onions (scallions) and halved cherry tomatoes.
Add some slightly cooked peas and mint instead of coriander leaves.
My packet of Israeli couscous suggests toasting it in a little oil before adding boiling water and simmering until done.