Maftoul (fragrant Palestinian couscous)

Time1 hour 30 minutes
YieldsServes 4 generously
Maftoul, the Palestinian cousin to couscous, with chicken and vegetables.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Maftoul, the Palestinian cousin to couscous, is one of the key players in Palestinian cuisine. It’s the centerpiece of whatever table it arrives at, turning a family meal into a feast. It’s big on flavor, great on looks and wonderfully satisfying to eat.

From the story: Palestinian cookbooks help preserve a culture’s identity


To make the chicken, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


Place the chicken in a large bowl and add the oil, 1 teaspoon salt and a good grind of black pepper. Toss to coat, then transfer to a four-quart oven-proof dish (or a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper), skin side up. Put the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and fennel seeds in a small bowl and combine. Sprinkle one-fourth of the spice mixture over the chicken, then roast the chicken for 45 minutes or until nicely browned and cooked through (and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees).


While the chicken is in the oven, make the maftoul: Put the oil into a large pot with a lid and place over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time. Add the tomato paste and sugar and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots and squash and cook for 3 minutes, stirring a few times, then add the chickpeas, the remaining spice mix, the garlic and stock. Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, covered, or until the vegetables are just cooked. Strain the vegetables, making sure you reserve the stock. Keep the vegetables warm in a covered bowl. Return the stock to the same pot — you should have about 2½ cups — then add the maftoul and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, then cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the maftoul is just cooked. Turn off the heat and set the maftoul aside for 10 minutes, with the pot still covered. After 10 minutes, fluff the maftoul with a fork and add the vegetables to the pot, along with the lemon juice and half the parsley.


Spoon the maftoul into a large, deep serving dish. Top with the chicken, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve.

Maftoul is sold at the Cookbook stores in Echo Park and Highland Park and is also available from Canaan, a fair-trade company that sells Palestinian staples.
Adapted from “Falastin: A Cookbook” by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley.