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.
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.
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.
She used the marmahon to produce the next dish.
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
Curried Maftoul with Broccoli
Maftoul and Lentil Salad with Spinach and Grilled Halloumi
Have you tried marmahon? Let me know in the comments section below.