fat couscous and chickpea salad with a lemon-chilli dressing

fat couscous salad with feta and chlli
It isn't very often that I eat a supermarket ready-meal and think "delicious. I must rush home and try to create it". In fact it has never happened before. But recently there has been one thing I have rather enjoyed and that is one of Sainsbury's range of Taste the Difference Giant Cous Cous and Feta salad pots.

I spent years trying to track down Israeli couscous in England. But I finally managed to identify it as mograbiah or moghrabbiyeh. This is also known as Lebanese, pearl or Israeli couscous. And until I had a word to describe it, I just called it fat couscous; it shall always be fat couscous to me.

Each grain of mograbiah, which is made from flour and salted water, is the size of a small bead, about half a centimetre across and you usually boil it in water or stock for about 15 minutes. Unlike ordinary couscous, which is both easier to track down and to cook, as usually you just pour over boiling water or stock, stir and leave for 10 to 15 minutes in order to allow the grains to fluff up.

As I mentioned, I did at first find it difficult to get hold of the mograbiah (although worth it in the end as the texture is great - not too gritty as finer couscous can sometimes be). I finally managed to find some at the Tas Restaurant’s deli (Ev) in Southwark and at the Phoenicia Mediterranean Food Hall in Kentish Town, north London. Merchant Gourmet also sells what they call Giant Couscous.

Delicious with my chicken with chilli, lemon and mint, and is perfect party food, if I say so myself!

serves: 4
skill level: easy

400g cooked chickpeas (about a tin's worth)
200 g couscous
375 ml boiling water, vegetable or chicken stock

120g feta cheese, crumbled
4 x spring onions, finely sliced (green and white parts)
1 x red pepper, diced
5-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp tomato puree
4-5 shakes of Tabasco (to taste)
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp sugar
3 - 4 x fresh mint leaves, finely shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper

fresh chives, snipped (to serve)


  1. Cook the couscous as directed, either using water or vegetable or chicken stock. If using the mograbiah, then drain and refresh under cold water. Make sure that the couscous is very well drained. It may be worth spreading on a clean tea towel or paper towels to soak up any excess water.
  2. Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients and giving a good whisk to ensure all the ingredients have blended together. You will need to taste to adjust the seasoning. You may need to add more sugar if it is overly sour (although personally the tart flavour is very much to my liking).
  3. Pour over the dressing and ensure all the components of the salad are well coated with dressing.
  4. Snip some chives over the salad before serving.


Dom at Belleau Kitchen said...

sounds great... always nice to have someone else you trust discover something lovely for you, I will go out and purchase!, thanks x

Food Glorious Food! said...

I love chickpeas and this salad is perfect as a meal! Thanks for the recipe!


Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

OMG, this looks so delicious! Thank for sharing and have a great weekend!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Hi Dom, I have to say that they probably don't have much of a flavour but they defnitely have a great texture!

Milli said...

You have to go to Green Valley, 36-37 Upper Berkeley St, just around the corner from Marble Arch. This place sells Israeli cous cous and also lovely vegetables and salads, freshly baked flatbreads and pizzas and they have pyramids of baklava in the windows that are more than half the price of the stuff you get in the likes of borough market!

Marmaduke Scarlet said...

Milli that's a genius idea, and even better it's kind of on my way home as I often get a bus via Marble Arch . . . but now I've got a craving to go down the Edgeware Road for some Lebanese food . . . and some decent hummous!

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Mary, fat cous cous it will always be,sounds much better than mograbiah!!!!-I recently bought a packet of this but it is still sitting on the store cupboard shelf. This recipe sounds interesting I am going to play with it and report back.Have always loved the combo of feta and cous cous.

o cozinheiro este algarve said...

Fat cous cous is great- love it.
It will now always be fat cous cous not mograbia. Love the idea of interpreting a ready meal. I have always loved the combo of Feta and cous cous so am going to play with trhis idea and report back.

Working london mummy said...

Hi nice blog. They sell giant couscous in Sainsburys now - by Merchant Gourmet - I bought some and made some baby couscous stuffed with giant couscous - its on my blog if you want to see! :)

Pete Lebow said...

hi, I'm so glad that those little pots of Sainsburys goodness did something to other people I was worried it was just me - I've just managed to get some giant cous cous after years of looking - Amazon of all places :) Thanks for this recipe its bookmarked and I'm making a batch for lunches this week :D YAY

Miss J said...

Hi Marmaduke,
thanks for this post love.
I tried this Sainsburys salad for the first time this week as they had reduced it to £1.
I thought I must make this at home, I thought I was the only one with that idea! Just bought some giant cous cous.
Have a great week and thanks again for the post
Miss J
All the best for your

Melanie White said...

Hi Marmaduke Scarlet,
I too love this salad from Sainsbury's and today decided to make my own version. Having purchased all of the ingredients (including 'giant couscous' also from Sainsbury's) I looked online for a recipe and was delighted to find yours! Thank you.