Focus on Maftoul

What do you know about maftoul? You have probably heard of variations on the theme, even if you haven’t yet heard the Palestinian term maftoul – an Arabic word derived from the root “fa-ta-la” which means to roll or to twist. Similar to giant cous cous, maftoul has a nutty, moreish flavour and is made from sun-dried bulgur mixed with whole wheat flour and water. It is larger than couscous and its grains are slightly uneven, because they are rolled by hand. It is loved by top UK chefs including Yotam Ottolenghi, who championed maftoul in his recipe column in The Guardian in 2013, and is delicious in salads, risottos and pilafs.

Maftoul is hand-rolled by women who get together after the harvest to crack, roll and dry the large grains in the abundant Palestinian sunshine, just as their grandmothers have done for generations. This traditional grain takes time and skill to make yet cooks in just 12 minutes. The resulting ‘bite’ and earthy flavour of the maftoul pearls make it a delicious alternative to other grains as either a main dish or a hearty accompaniment. The maftoul in our shop is sourced by Zaytoun, a community interest company which was founded in 2004 to support the resilience and livelihoods of Palestinian farmers. For women’s co-operatives in rural Palestine, maftoul production provides a sustainable source of income and the opportunity to take pride in their work:

“As a Palestinian woman, I transfer these traditions to the next generation of women in order to preserve Palestinian culture and connect them with their heritage, and also to offer them the chance to be future leaders in the community”.

Bassema Barahmeh, coordinator at Anza village women’s co-operative

Maftoul is a versatile grain and makes a really delicious salad. Simply add some salad leaves and herbs to a bowl of cooked maftoul, pop in some roasted tomatoes, drizzle with dressing and top with grilled halloumi, roast chicken or crispy tofu for a meal full of texture and flavour. Follow Zaytoun’s campaign hashtag #ThisIsNotCouscous on social media for more recipes and ideas.

Images courtesy of Zaytoun