Uncovering The Story Of Maftoul: Palestine’s Soulful Couscous

Known as maftoul or Palestinian couscous, this is a dish that is a literal centerpiece for any family gathering. Brought all the way from Morocco to Palestine, maftoul is a dish made of bulgur wheat. What makes this dish special is the unique way it is made. When looking at the word maftoul, it comes from ‘fatala’ which translates into ‘twist’ or ‘turn’ because the maftoul is actually twisted, split and stretched by hand over ground organic whole wheat flour and then steamed, dried and dried again in the sun.

Maftoul is a handmade legacy as Palestinian mothers are the ones who take over the making of this special dish. They are the experts who took on the special hand movement required to make each granule, one that was passed down many generations.

When it comes to what can be done with maftool, the options are endless. It is usually a side dish served next to chicken or vegetables. You could go for a traditional recipe of maftoul served with chicken which is usually made by marinating the chicken in a spice blend of cumin, fennel seeds, turmeric and other spices then roasting it in the oven. In the meantime, the couscous is cooked in chicken broth for about 20-30 minutes, or until soft. The final touch is adding garlic and chickpeas and then plating the maftool mixture and top with the roasted chicken and onions. Garnish with parsley and lemon, and serve. You can find the full recipe at Urban Farm and Kitchen.

You can also go for a non-traditional dish like the maftoul salad which is made by cooking maftoul on a stovetop with onions, garlic and chili for that fiery flavor. Then you add vegetable stock, raisins and salt to properly cook the maftoul. Once cooked, spread the maftoul on a tray to cool. Once it has cooled down, add peppers, cucumber, spring onions, herbs, olive oil and lemon juice to complete the dish. You can find the full recipe at Delicious Magazine.

No matter which type of recipe you go for, indulging in a steaming plate of maftoul is like taking a step back and delving into the true history and identity of the Palestinian region.

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