Healthy chef dinner: Shane Delia’s poached mussels recipe with saffron and Moghrabieh couscous

Healthy chef dinner: Shane Delia’s poached mussels recipe with saffron and Moghrabieh couscous

Shane Delia is best known for his popular Maha restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD and for his SBS series Shane Delia’s Spice Journey.  His cooking fuses Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours and methods, dished up with a contemporary spin.

Largely vegetable based, this dish is hearty and big on flavour, and is simple enough to be cook up on a weeknight – provided you’ve sourced the spices beforehand. Alternatively, serve it as part of a weekend family meal along with Middle Eastern-style salads or mezze.

Don’t be scared off by the mussels, which are simple to prepare. Begin by preparing the tomato base and then whip up a batch of spicy fel fel in a food processor.

Shane plates up the dish at Melbourne's Maha.
Shane plates up the dish at Melbourne’s Maha.  Photo: Pat Scala

Poached mussels with saffron and Moghrabieh cous cous


200g moghrabieh couscous (large or pearl cous cous)

40 mussels, cleaned and debearded

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted

pinch of saffron threads

250ml white wine

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon fel fel (a chilli paste, see recipe below)

400ml tomato base (see recipe below)

flaked sea salt

1⁄4 bunch mint, torn

1⁄4 bunch coriander, torn


1. Bring two litres of salted water to the boil over high heat. Add the couscous and cook for 5-10 minutes or until soft.

2. Meanwhile, place a large saucepan over high heat, add the mussels, fennel seeds, saffron and white wine and cover until the mussels have opened. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

3. Add the couscous, pine nuts, fel fel and tomato base and warm through. Check the seasoning and add salt if necessary.

4. Finish with the mint and coriander, then transfer to a large dish and serve in the centre of the table.

Serves 4

For fel fel

250g red bullet chillies, seeds removed

1⁄2 loaf day-old white bread, crusts removed

100ml olive oil, plus extra to cover

100ml sherry vinegar

flaked sea salt

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons ground coriander


Place all the ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Add a little more olive oil if the mixture seems dry. Transfer to an airtight container and cover with a layer of

oil to keep it fresh. Sore in the refrigerator for up to eight months.

Makes approximately 500g

For tomato base

50ml olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste (pure)

1 bunch coriander, roots only

50g sabbah baharat (spice mix)

2 cloves

1 cinnamon quill

1 star anise

2 tablespoons honey

750g tinned crushed tomatoes

300ml warm water


1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for five minutes or until softened.

2. Add the tomato paste, coriander root and spices and cook for a further five minutes.

3. Add the crushed tomatoes and warm water and cook gently for one hour.

4. Remove the cinnamon, star anise and cloves. Puree the tomato mixture, then pass through a strainer. Store in sterilised jars or bottles for 1 month. Once opened, store in the refrigerator.

Makes approximately 700ml

This recipe originally appeared in Maha Middle Eastern Home Cooking

Words by Jane Holroyd
Photography by Pat Scala
Originally posted on Good Food
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