Burnt Aubergine and Mograbieh Soup

Mograbieh is a gorgeous large couscous, one of several varieties available around the Mediterranean and Middle East that includes maftoul, fregola, giant couscous, pearl couscous and Israeli couscous. They are generally widely available – some in supermarkets but the best in Middle Eastern groceries. Although there are differences, they can be interchanged in many recipes.

This recipe is a delightful and unusual soup – who has heard of eggplant soup before? Today we have one for you. It is Israeli in origin, and features in Tamimi and Ottolenghi’s book Jerusalem. The texture is from the mograbieh and fried eggplant, and the smooth soup base is char-roasted eggplant and tomatoes.

It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking mainly from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Mograbieh and Artichoke Pilaf, Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans, and Couscous Lunches.

Browse our Eggplant recipes. Mograbieh dishes, and our Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Mograbieh (Giant Couscous) and Artichoke Pilaf

Fregola, Mograbieh, Israeli Couscous, Moftoul, Ptitim, Jerusalem Couscous, Pearl Couscous, Ben-Gurion rice, Lebanese Couscous, Giant Couscous, Kabyle Abazine – no wonder you are confused. These are all variations of couscous used through the Middle East, around the coast to Sardinia, and into Israel. They vary in size and shape, construction and ingredients but are generally larger couscous/pasta with either a round-ish or rice-like shape.

Although the different types can generally 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. These have a nuttier flavour than normal couscous. Another type is Ptitim, or Israeli Couscous, a type of toasted pasta and shaped either like rice-grains or little balls. It 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. When cooked they have a chewy buttery flavour and are larger than Israeli Couscous. These starchy pasta balls swell and become soft and chewy as they cook, and are excellent 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 (labelled Israeli Couscous!), but more recently a local Afghan shop stocks the best Mograbieh.

While Ottolenghi uses Fregola for this dish, I suggest using any of the above large couscous types that you have at hand or that are easy for you to purchase. It will still be excellent!

Yes, this is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More. In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

This dish is an unusual one – hearty yet fresh. It is best served just warm or at room temperature.

Similar recipes include Burnt Eggplant and Mograbieh Soup, Artichoke and Potato Salad with Preserved Lemon Mayonnaise, Artichoke Hearts with Mozzarella and Candied Citrus, Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans, Barley Pilaf with Mushrooms, and Rice and Cauliflower Pilaf.

Browse all of our Large Couscous dishes, and all of our Pilafs. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Mograbieh (Giant Couscous) and Artichoke Pilaf”

Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans | Israeli Couscous Pilaf with Broad Beans

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.

Also try our Saffron Couscous with Apricots and Pumpkin, Burnt Eggplant and Mograbieh Soup, Mograbieh and Artichoke Pilaf, and Freekeh Pilaf with Herbs and Yoghurt Dressing.

You might like to browse our Middle Eastern recipes, our Israeli recipes and our Orzo recipes. Enjoy all of our Late Spring recipes here.

Continue reading “Saffron Mograbieh Pilaf with Broad Beans | Israeli Couscous Pilaf with Broad Beans”

Light Pasta or Couscous Lunches | Pasta or Couscous Salads

Do you still make as many pasta dishes as you used to? Somehow it has fallen out of fashion somewhat. Rather than the regular pasta night each week, it seems that pasta is more a once-a-month dish. And the fall-back pasta types are spaghetti – thick or thin – or fettuccine. Recently, at an Italian restaurant, I had an amazing macaroni dish and yet I can’t recall the last time I had macaroni. Not even a mac and cheese!

Coincidentally I now have an amazing Italian providore close by, one that holds an amazing array of different pastas, which I vow to explore one by one.

Rather than a hearty evening pasta supper, we have been eating pasta salads – they are so fresh and light, so very appealing, so perfect for Spring and Summer weather. Herbs are growing in the garden after the winter cold – chives, basil, parsley, spring onions (scallions). There are chillies too and Thai basil. Lots of salad type greens that can stand up to a little pasta – baby spinach, rocket, lettuce varieties.

Would you like similar dishes? Try Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts, Burnt Eggplant and Mograbieh Soup, Mograbieh and Artichoke Pilaf, Elegant Orzo Pasta with Wilted Spinach and Pinenuts, Roast Pumpkin Couscous Salad, and Rocket and Penne Salad.

Enjoy our other pasta recipes and other Couscous dishes. Take some time to browse our Salads too. Our Italian recipes are also here. Or explore our Early Summer dishes.

Continue reading “Light Pasta or Couscous Lunches | Pasta or Couscous Salads”

How to Turn Nothing into a Hot Couscous Salad

Sometimes we need to make a meal out of seemingly nothing.

It’s great to have some time at the seaside. Recently in Kauai I made a special lunch in about 10 mins, to eat over the water. Really, it was just from things that we had around in the condo – towards the end of the trip we tried to use up as much as we could.  It was perfect for a relaxed day contemplating nothing much. You can do the same with whatever you have in your kitchen. You can even replace the large couscous with the smaller grains, polenta, or any lentils.

You can browse all of our salad recipes here.

Continue reading “How to Turn Nothing into a Hot Couscous Salad”