Chickpea Jerusalem couscous (ptitim)

Jerusalem couscous (ptitim in Hebrew) is a real staple food in Israel. Originally created as a substitute for rice, which was expensive in Israel, it now used by gourmet chefs in stylish restaurants. Basically, it’s like giant couscous, or ball-shaped pasta. I mean, what’s not to love?

The best thing about Jerusalem couscous is that it can and should be toasted slightly prior to boiling, so that some of it darkens, giving a delicious nutty flavour and enhancing its visual appeal, too.

In this recipe I was inspired by Iraqui rice dishes, which often contain a layer of fried onion and lentils on top. Caramelised yet slightly sticky onions provide a sweet taste, which is perfectly complimented by the more savoury tones of cumin, curry paste and salt. Delicious!

This really is one of the easiest and quickest dishes you can make, and handily it can be eaten hot or cold.

The amounts depend totally on how many people you are cooking for. I made enough to feed 6 people amply – feel free to amend the recipe according to your requirements.


Chickpea Jerusalem couscous (ptitim)


  • 3 large white onions
  • 400g (240g drained) can of chickpeas
  • 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon of curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • Couscous
  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 750g Israeli couscous
  • Chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • Water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Chop the onions finely and fry in a large deep saucepan on a medium heat. You want them to be golden, without any bite to them. They should be caramelised.
  2. Add the drained chickpeas and the spices and salt.
  3. Fry the mixture until the chickpeas begin to cook and become golden.
  4. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  5. In the same pan, pour in the Jerusalem couscous, and toast it slightly so that some of the small balls become brown.
  6. Then add enough boiling water with chicken stock (as directed on the packet, or your own) to cover the couscous by an inch.
  7. Stir in the spices and salt.
  8. Stir and cover, checking every few minutes and adding water as necessary.
  9. Serve couscous on a white dish as shown below, then layer the onions and chickpeas on top.

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