November 9, 2011  •  Category:



In Lebanon and the rest of the Levant, couscous is not a staple food, it is considered a food from the Maghreb (the Western side); in the Mashrek (name given to the Levant meaning the Eastern side of the Arab world), there is what can be considered a couscous-type food: It is called maftoul.

Unlike couscous which is made with semolina, maftoul is usually  made from wheat and bulgur and  is dark in color if made with unbleached wheat and bulgur. I had a Syrian friend, Maha, whose mother, grandmother and aunts  would still make it, by hand, in their home in the Horan region.

One can easily find it in Middle-Eastern stores. However, the absolute best maftoul I found recently is available online. It is made by Palestinian women in cooperatives (under the umbrella of a Fair Trade organization), by hand and with organic wheat and bulgur. The taste is absolutely exquisite and a far cry from the commercial maftoul. The grains are not even-shaped (as they are made by hand) and their aroma, even uncooked, is heady.

Maftoul is extremely easy to use; just cook it in boiling broth, on a ratio of 2 parts broth to one part maftoul, for about 15 minutes. It can be incorporated into any dish as any whole-grain or rice.


21 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. leaf says:

    I like the sound of this maftoul. Especially the rustic, organic, delicious ones you mention! I wonder if I can purchase them without getting intercepted by strict Australian customs…

  2. kate says:

    this looks like what we call M’hamsa or Berqokes here in Algeria. Some people also cook it in milk.

  3. Chiara says:

    It looks a lot like fregola, a type of home made pasta they make in Sardenia…

  4. Magda says:

    This is so interesting Joumana. I wish I could find it in Holland.
    That dish is beautiful btw.

  5. Trix says:

    Oooh, I checked out that site – looks like a lot of cool stuff on there. Including of course that homemade maftoul. I am so intrigued to smell it!

  6. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Now I’m going to have to go a hunt for these – love these hearty grains. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Mrs. Measurement says:

    I love maftool! I usually buy mine from the local Arabic grocery store but you’ve intrigued me with the organic maftool you buy online. Thank you so much for sharing the link. I will be sure to buy my maftool from this online site the next time.

  8. lisaiscooking says:

    Thanks for sharing this–I wasn’t familiar with maftoul. The handmade version you found online sounds lovely.

  9. Krista says:

    Incredible, Joumana! I can’t believe they make these tiny little bits by hand. 🙂 Thank you so much for letting us know where we can find it. I love having good resources!!

  10. domi says:

    Voyage en terre inconnue…

  11. Tracy Zhu says:

    I own the store you linked too and want to say thanks for mentioning us. We’re a small business and every bit helps! Your blog is lovely, both the recipes and the photography.
    Tracy Zhu

    • Joumana says:

      @Tracy: Thanks so much for leaving a comment; it will make ordering from your store all the more enjoyable! I am already eyeing those baskets from Darfur!

  12. Tall Clover Farm says:

    Joumana, I always learned something and leave hungry when I visit you here at Taste of Beirut.

  13. Nuts about food says:

    Thank you for teaching me about maftoul.

  14. Alicia (Foodycat) says:

    How interesting! Maftoul sounds like something worth seeking out.

  15. heguiberto says:

    wow making these tiny little balls by hand? I’ve got to try your recipe with cranberry beans.

  16. Nadia says:

    You can also buy Palestinian Maftoul, hand made by the Women’s Cooperative, from Taste of Palestine, importers and distributors of Palestinian fine food…

    Link to the product:

  17. Lena says:

    @Ieaf: I bought some when Ivisited Bethlehem last month. It was in a sealed bag but had Arabic writing on it. The Australian customs thought it was freekeh so they let it through. I made it 2 days ago and was so happy. It took me back to my childhood when I lived in the middle east. My grandma used hand roll it and send it from Gaza and my mum used to cook it

  18. Hisham Assaad says:

    Being of Palestinian origin, my grandma used to roll maftoul on her own. She also taught my mom how to do it. They used to let us, as kids, help them so that we have something to do and not bother them. It was real fun.

    Now mom still does makes maftoul by hand. The store-bought maftoul is not the same, it is like small dough balls. I, hopefully, will make sure this tradition goes on.

  19. marta says:

    Is it possible to make salad without cooking maftoul, but only soaking some hours, like tabouleh?

    • Joumana says:

      @marta: I have done this with coarse bulgur; pouring boiling water on it for 15 minutes; it is possible to do this with maftoul I would imagine.

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