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Maftoul (Couscous)

If anyone is thinking to themselves, "do people in the middle east eat any food that doesn't include rice?" The answer is um, "sometimes."
Maftoul,also known as couscous, is one of the few main Arabic dishes that doesn't include rice. Maftoul or couscous consists of wheat granules that are rolled up into small pellets. A special two-in-one steamer is used to prepare this dish. The bottom steamer includes the water, salt, spices(cumin,cinnamon)and chick peas while the top steamer includes the maftoul. Olive oil and onions are added in the top steamer with the maftoul.Once the maftoul has been cooked, it is placed into a large plate and olive oil is rubbed onto the maftoul.

Maftoul is usually prepared during special occasions since the preparation of this meal is very time-consuming. This dish is also very difficult to prepare so not all households know how to prepare this meal. When my mother-in-law makes this meal, she invites her whole family for dinner because she is one of the few people in the family that knows how to cook maftoul.

Depending on area of the middle east you reside, maftoul can be served in various ways. There are 3 main ways to serve maftoul.

1. The maftoul is served in a large plate and chick peas are placed over the maftoul. Boiled chicken is also prepared and served with the maftoul. A light chicken broth is poured over the maftoul to add some flavor.
2. The maftoul is served in small plates and a tomato sauce is prepared that includes chick peas and fried cauliflower. This sauce is poured over the the maftoul. Fried chicken served alongside the maftoul.
3. The maftoul is served in small plates and chick peas are placed over the maftoul. A chicken broth soup and roasted chicken are served along with the maftoul.

Country of Specialty:
Maftoul is highly recognized in Palestine. The wheat granules used to prepare the maftoul in Palestine are rounder and larger than the wheat granules used in other middle eastern countries. Couscous is a very popular dish in Morocco.


  1. It really looks delicious. I like couscous!
    Thanks for sharing

  2. I'm happy someone is finally calling it Moroccan or Palestinian and not "Israeli Couscous"
    Israel has only existed for 60 years and it's refreshing to see that all these dishes were authentic Arabic dishes that have existed for centuries and thereby can only be attributed to Arabs and not Israelis!
    Keep up the good work.
    I'm craving some maftool now :)

  3. My mother in law "taught" me how to make maftoul we she came to visit. I am now one of the few people in the family who know how to make it. Even her daughter admits that she doesn't know how. I feel lucky that I had that experience and I am teaching my children how to make it.

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  6. There are so so many Arab dishes /meals without rice. In fact when I first moved to thd middle east I was shocked at how little people eat rice. Most families I know only eat a rice dish once a week, other days fish with salads and bread. Various stew type dishes which are often NOT served with rice but with bread, soups often thick eaten with bread and green chillis various pastries stuffed with spinach, feta. chicken, mince, trays of layered veg topped off with a layer of seasoned mince or chicken, pasta dishes, loads of veggie stuff and of course Mashee which is various veggies and leaves stuffed with rice, ok I know rice!

  7. Hello I'm from Palestine and I have been to North African Arab countries and I have to say that although in theory Maftoul and couscous are synonyms they actually taste very different. I don't know if you already know this but couscous grains are made from semolina and a little wheat flout unlike Maftoul which of course is wholly made of flour and occasionally bulgar is added to it. Also the stew tastes different between the two dishes. Although I like Maftoul but I would choose couscous over it every time. i just love couscous prepared in Moroccan or Tunisian style.

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