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Hearty Lebanese Whole Grains Stew – Makhlouta Recipe

Some traditional Lebanese stews tend to have the simplest of ingredients yet the loveliest of flavors, as well as loads of vitamins and fibers. “Makhlouta” falls within this category. A literal English translation of the Arabic word Makhlouta is  “mixed”, probably referring to the mix of 5 or 6 types of whole grains that go in it.

Long ago, before the invasion of Monsanto and its genetically adulterated grains into our food chain, Lebanese farmers used to  pick locally grown organic beans and grains to make Makhlouta.


The version we’re familiar with is made with the following grains: whole wheat, lentils, rice, pinto beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and Burghol (cracked wheat). If for some reason you can’t find whole wheat in mainstream supermarkets, you could substitute with barley.

The base flavoring for this stew, just like in many other Lebanese stews, comes from fried onions. The more onions, the better.

Note: In the original recipe, the onions are fried in Olive oil, and then dumped with their oil into the cooking pot. However we adopted a slightly healthier way of doing it. We first fry the onions in Coconut oil (or an oil that has high heat tolerance), then strain them as much as possible before adding them to the pot.  We’ve been trying to steer away from using Canola and other “vegetable” oils for frying at home and instead substituting with Coconut oil due to its health benefits, and most importantly high tolerance for heat. Canola and many other oils that have low heat tolerance will oxydize during frying and turn bad for health.

Makhlouta is a traditional Lebanese stew made from at least 5 types of whole grains.

Makhlouta Ingredients (5 servings)

1/2 cup of Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/2 cup of Pinto beans
1/2 cup of wheat grains *
1/4 cup of lentils
1/4 cup of rice
1/4 cup of Burghul (cracked wheat)
1 large potato head cut in small pieces
2 large onions finely minced
3 table spoons of Coconut Oil (or other oils) for frying **
2 table spoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Preparation Method
  1. Soak the wheat, pinto beans and garbanzo beans in separate water containers overnight. Make sure to have a lot of water in the containers since the grains may triple or even quadruple in size. The following day right before cooking, empty the water and rinse the beans a bit.
  2. When ready to cook, first add the wheat to a cooking pot with 12 cups of water, and let it boil for 20 minutes on low heat
  3. Then add the garbanzo beans and let the pot boil for another 20 minutes on low heat.
  4. Then add the pinto beans and let the pot boil for another 20 minutes. The reason we add the beans sequentially is because wheat takes the longest time to cook, followed by garbanzo beans and followed by pinto beans. But time may vary and may need to be increased if the beans are older. The beans/grains are cooked when the loose their crunchiness and turn soft that you can smash them with your fingers.
  5. While the beans are boiling, mince the onions and fry them in 3-4 table spoons of coconut oil** (or other vegetable oils) for about 20-30 minutes or until they turn medium brown (don’t burn them) while stirring every now and then.
  6. Peel then chop the potato head into small cubes of about 1/2 inch.
  7. Rinse the rice and lentils then strain them.
  8. After the pinto beans have boiled for 20 minutes, add the rice, lentils, onions, chopped potatoes, olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, mix well, and let simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally.
Serving and Tips

  • Serve hot
  • A well done stew should have its beans and grains soft, and having lost their crunchiness.
  • Cooking time may not always be fully relevant because if the grains are old, they will take longer to cook and you may need to add another 30-45 minutes to simmering.
  • If you use a pressure cooker, you will need less cooking time
  • If the water level in the stew goes down a lot (absorbed by grains) feel free to add 2-3 more cups while boiling.
  • You can store the leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days, and when reheating add a bit of water as needed.
  • * Wheat grains: we had difficulty finding it in mainstream supermarkets, we ended up buying it from an Arab-owned Middle Eastern grocery store
  • ** Coconut Oil: For frying, try to use coconut oil or other oils (sesame …etc) that have high tolerance for heat.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 90-120 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian
Number of servings (yield): 5
Culinary tradition: Middle Eastern

Source: Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen.

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