Palestinian Couscous with Chicken and Chickpeas (Maftoul)

  • Serves

    serves 4


This hearty couscous dish is layered with chickpeas and bathed in a broth fragrant with garlic and lemon, and served with crisp-skinned chicken. It first appeared in our December 2013 issue along with Nancy Harmon Jenkins' article Heart of Palestine.


  • 8 whole allspice, plus 1/8 tsp. ground
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 (3 1/2-4-lb.) chicken, quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions, 1 halved, 1 minced
  • 1 stick cinnamon, plus 1/8 tsp. ground
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 34 cup olive oil
  • 2 12 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 12 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 cup maftoul (Palestinian large-grain couscous)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 12 lemons, thinly sliced
  • Greek yogurt, for serving
  • Roughly chopped parsley, for garnish


Step 1

Bring chicken, whole allspice, half each the garlic and lemon, the halved onion, cinnamon stick, salt, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered slightly, until chicken is cooked, 15–20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to a bowl. Add 1⁄4 cup oil, half the cumin, and the cardamom to the chicken and toss to coat; set aside. Increase heat to medium; simmer until stock is reduced to 4 cups, 20–25 minutes. Strain, discarding solids, into a bowl.

Step 2

Heat 1⁄4 cup oil in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining garlic and lemons and the minced onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6–8 minutes. Add ground allspice and cinnamon, the remaining cumin, the maftoul, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring, until couscous is lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add 1 1⁄2 cups reserved stock; boil. Reduce heat to low; cook, covered, until couscous is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 16–18 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork, and transfer to a serving platter; keep warm.

Step 3

Heat remaining oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, skin side down; cook, flipping once, until browned, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to platter with couscous. Add chickpeas to skillet with remaining stock; boil. Cook until liquid is reduced to about 1⁄2 cup, 8–10 minutes. Spoon chickpeas over chicken; garnish with parsley and serve with yogurt.

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