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Happy New Year! To start the year off yummy & right, I wanted to share with you one of my family recipes! When my father was a young boy, his father got a job in Libya. Their family moved there and lived there for years. My father would go to his friends' houses and would eat with them. Many times he would get there early and watch the cooking process. Why? I guess he had it in him from a young age. He learned this one from his best friend's mother. Growing up, I was never interested in cooking. Then, when I started, I failed so many times and threw away so many dishes. My dad pushed me to never give up.

This is a Libyan dish! Once you start eating it you cannot stop! My dad taught me how to make this dish. He always says it is named Mbakbaka, because when the sauce is boiling, it makes the noise 'bak bak bak,' which represents the sound of the bubbles. What I love about this dish is that it's a one-pot meal... not too many dishes to do after. It's a dish that tastes better the spicier it is, so if you can handle it, turn up the heat. It's vibrant color and amazing taste just makes you want to eat more. There are many different ways to make this dish, but this is our family's version!


  • 3 tblspns olive oil

  • 2 jalapeños, sliced in half vertically

  • 1 white onion, finely chopped

  • 4 tblspns tomato paste

  • 4 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 4-5 medium potatoes, cut into 3 chunks

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 1-lbs bag of pasta (cannelloni or ditali)


  1. Add oil to a pot and begin to heat. Add jalapeños, seed side down, and let them fry for 2 minutes until oil absorbs the spice and flavor. You can add more or put less jalapeños depending on how spicy you like it.

  2. Add onions and sauté until translucent.

  3. Add spices and stir well.

  4. Add tomato paste and mix in until well incorporated.

  5. Add water and whisk to blend until paste melts and becomes part of the liquid. Bring to boil.

  6. Once water is boiled and bubbling, add potatoes. Let it boil well in the sauce until the potatoes are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

  7. In the meantime, drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Add them to the sauce and let cook for 5-10 minutes.

  8. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, until pasta is cooked through.

  9. Add an extra splash of ground cinnamon, stir well, & enjoy!

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #EATDRINKPLAYLA. I'd love to see how yours turned out!

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