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Posted by on May 12, 2012 | 11 comments

Discovery of the Week: Marmahon, Honduras Comfort Food With Middle Eastern Roots

 

This post is part of a weekly feature called Discovery of the Week. By discovery, I mean a place, a custom or dish that is not widely known. See, I love to read travel magazines, websites and books. Very often, I find beautiful and interesting gems that not a lot of people seem to know about. That is why I thought about introducing this feature because I am sure it will expose a lot of astonishing places. Additionally, I enjoy learning about the many amazing places in the world. I believe my readers also enjoy this activity.

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Discovery of the Week: Marmahon

What it is: Like couscous, marmahon is a form of pasta made of hard wheat formed into grains or beads.  But do not get confused, couscous is tiny when compared to marmahon which is often known as pearl couscous.  The pearl shape is indigenous to Lebanon and Jordan.  My research shows this grain is also popular in Palestine.  Marmahon is also known as maftoul.  Use this second name if you want to find out more information about it.

To clear up any confusion, take a look at the next photo.  The tiny grains are called couscous.  The medium size grains are called marmahon or maftoul.  The big grains are known as moghrabieh.  All of these are usually boiled or used in soups and stews like regular pastas.  They are used in salads too.

Couscous and Marmahon

 

Now, how on earth are marmahon and Honduras related? Arabic Christians began to emigrate from Palestine to Latin America at the end of the 19th century.  A lot of them got established in Honduras due to the god deals the government was offering to foreign investors.  It is estimated that 200,000 people in the country are of Palestinian descent.  Arabic culture is at its strongest in San Pedro Sula, which is home to an Orthodox Christian church and the Centro Social Hondureño Arabe (Honduran Arabic Social Center).  Those are the reasons why the marmahon and other Middle Eastern dishes are so popular in Honduras.

A friend of mine asked me to bring her some marmahon from Honduras.  We stopped in a supermarket in San Pedro Sula and grabbed 4 bags before heading to the airport.

Nassar, one of the most popular marmahon brands in Honduras.

 

She used the marmahon to produce the next dish.

Marmahon and Chicken Stew

 

Marmahon and Chicken Stew

 

It is a thick stew with chicken, carrots, celery and a type of squash.  It was absolutely delicious!!! Now, we are checking Middle Eastern markets to see if we can get some more marmahon (you don’t have to go so far.  In the U.S., stores like Whole Foods sell it.  I even saw it at Big Lots the other day).

So, if you visit Honduras, try to eat a good plate of marmahon with chicken.  You will be indulging in one of the country’s most beloved dishes.

I have put together other sites where you can find marmahon (maftoul) recipes.

Curried Maftoul Salad with Butternut Squash

www.mideats.com

Curried Maftoul Salad with Butternut Squash

Curried Maftoul with Broccoli

www.vegobsession.com

Curried Maftoul with Broccoli

Maftoul and Lentil Salad with Spinach and Grilled Halloumi

www.indulgedevour.com

Maftoul and Lentil Salad with Spinach and Grilled Halloumi

Have you tried marmahon? Let me know in the comments section below.

11 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for writing this. We have quite a few co-workers from Honduras who make this here in Baltimore, and it has become a favorite amongst our whole company. We even feature it as a special on our menu sometimes. We had no idea of the history of the dish other than it is a favorite from our co-workers’ native culture.

  2. Well marmahon has been adopted by hondurans, but original marmahon is not made as you show it on the photo the one you show is the honduran version. I’m honduran born, from palestinian parents, our marmahon looks very different, we put chick peas and no vegetables, and we steam cook it and then we
    put it in a pan and add chicken soup and let it dry up, the chicken we rub it with salt and pepper and fry it until golden and cripsy. any how maftoul is soooooo goooooood I love it.

    • Daisy, thanks for your comment. The article focuses on why marmahon is linked to Honduras. In the article, I mentioned a Honduran friend prepared what I am presenting in the photo. I don’t have insight on how it is prepared in other parts of the world. Thanks for giving us some explanation.
      Ruth recently posted..Top California MomentsMy Profile

      • actually, I am from honduras and they way daisy explained it is exactly how they prepare it in honduras (i am from palestinian descent).
        I hadn’t really known they did marmahon outside of the arab circles in honduras.

  3. marmahon is made from cracked wheat, you put it in a big dish and sprinkle it with flour and salted water and you start turning it with your hands, more flour more water and you keep on with this until you build that dough around the piece of wheat and reach the size of the marmahon ball you want, it can be small or medium or a bit bigger……………to your taste.

  4. Hola! I am also a Honduran native living in Wisconsin. Marmahon has always been my favorite dish. This kind though, the Honduran version of it! Very much like the one you posted with the veggies and the chicken. It’s an all-in-one dish, so wholesome and wonderful!!
    I always bring some back with me when we go visit Honduras every year. I’ve never been able to find it here in the US though.
    Thank you for your post. I appreciate your appreciation for it!!! 🙂

    • Hi Laura! too bad I just found this article after all this time…You can find a similar substitute in the States under “Israeli Couscous”,hope this helps

  5. Thank you Ruth for posting this so more people know about your Discovery of the Week. I think you did a great job explaining in a simple way its origin, its popularity in Honduras and how you were introduced to it.

    As most dishes introduced to the Americas by their immigrants, there are variations between the original way they were prepared in their “new homeland” and the way “locals” made them popular later.

    I am also a Honduran of mix ancestors (who isn’t?) and I agree, we love Marmahon!!! I also bring several packages back to the US whenever I go visit.

    I’m glad you had the opportunity to experience different aspects of our culrure, places and food.

    Thank you,

  6. Incredibly awesome post. I would love the Marmahon and Chicken Stew recipe — Quite enticing. TIA

  7. Thank you I have lived pretty much all my life here in Miami Florida but, always remember about me going and loved to visit my Padrinos they were born in Choluteca but always enjoy their food. Marmahon served with lamb or stuffed hens were to die for! They did it different from all the recipes I’ve seen so far very simple basically butter, garlic,saphron, a little bit of mustard and of course chicken broth!

  8. One of my absolute favorite!! I was married to an Arabic man from Honduras… the meals he and my mother in law taught me to cook were beyond amazing!! This was one of them….

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