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Mbakbaka (Spicy Libyan Pasta) #EattheWorld


Welcome to the July 2022 event of  our #EattheWorld project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz. Here's her challenge. Turns out that Evelyne was in my neck of the woods recently; I noticed some photos on her social media channel. We tried to wrangle a meeting, but time was short and it didn't work out. Boo. Hopefully next trip!

This month, we are sharing recipes from the Libya, here's the #EattheWorld line-up...

And the Sunday Funday group to which I also belong is also sharing Libyan recipes. Some are repeats from above, but there are some tasty additions!

  • Ejja - Libyan Frittata from Mayuri’s Jikoni
  • Libyan Harissa Paste from Cook with Renu
  • Libyan Lamb Stew with White Beans and Spinach from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
  • Macroona Imbakbaka (Libyan Minestrone) from Amy’s Cooking Adventures
  • Maghreb Chicken and Vegetable Stew from Palatable Pastime
  • Mbakbaka (Spicy Libyan Pasta) from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
  • Libyan Cheese Dip from A Day in the Life on the Farm
  • Pilpelchuma - Libyan Chili Paste from Food Lust People Love
  • Sharba Libiya - Libyan Mint and Lamb Soup from Pandemonium Noshery
  • Tajin Sfinari bil Zaytun/ Libyan Lamb Casserole with Carrots and Green Olives from Sneha’s Recipe


Based on my research, Libyan cuisine seems to draw from the traditions of Mediterranean, North African, and Berber cuisines. This dish - Mbakbaka - really embraces that fusion with pasta, chickpeas, and more. We enjoyed this though my family commented that it was a lot of starch all in one pot. True.

  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 cup onions
  • 4 Tablespoons crushed tomatoes
  •  4 cups water 
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  •  1 teaspoon salt 
  •  1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
  •  1 to 2 teaspoons harissa paste, depending on preference
  •  1 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  •  5 to 6 medium potatoes, diced
  •  1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed 
  •  1 1-pound bag of pasta (traditional is ditali, I had conchiglie)

Add oil to a pot and heat till it glistens. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Stir in the spices, then add in the harissa pasta and crushed tomatoes. Whisk in the water and bring to a boil. Once water is boiled and bubbling, add potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. 

In the meantime, drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Add them to the sauce and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Stir in the pasta and cook until al dente.

Season to taste with more cinnamon. Enjoy! That's a wrap on my Libyan offering and this week's #SundayFunday, too. I can't wait to see what everyone else makes.


  1. I noticed that a lot of African food doubles up on the starches having both rice and potatoes in the same dish.

  2. Nice that this is vegan for those who partake.

  3. Lots of starch is what makes it comforting and tasty! Luckily the chickpeas and pasta complement each other to make up a complete protein. Love the addition of the cinnamon to the flavour profile.

  4. That is def a lot of starch, I love it! It looks so delicious.


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