Mbakibka-Libyan Lamb Pasta

Mbakibka may be difficult to say but it’s delicious to eat! It’s a one pot tomato based pasta dish traditionally made with lamb and a handful of simple but flavorful ingredients. The name is supposed to imitate the bubbly sound this pasta makes as it cooks-how cute is that!

Lamb Mbakibka

Mbakibka only consists of about 8 ingredients (without counting salt-but I mean really, who counts salt?). The only things needed to make this delicious pasta is oil, onion, lamb, turmeric, chili powder, salt, tomato paste, pasta, and basil to garnish.

Another winning factor to this dish is it’s a one pot meal-that makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner! Although it is a pasta dish the pasta is actually cooked in the same pot as the lamb is stewed-sort of orzo style. Dry pasta is added to the stewed lamb and water is added and cooked all together until the pasta is cooked through

Onion, Lamb, and Spices

So to make this dish, simply heat oil or ghee on high heat in a pan with high sides-I like to use my wok shaped pan. Add one large sliced onion and cook until it develops color-about five minutes. add in lamb and spices-turmeric, red chili powder, and salt. If you do not want the dish to be too spicy, use half paprika and half red chili powder. Next add tomato sauce and cook everything together until the spices are toasted.

Add Water and Simmer Until Tender

Add about 4 cups of cold water to the pot and bring to a simmer. Once that begins, turn the heat down to low and cover partly, continuing to simmer gently for about an hour-or until the lamb is completely tender.

Add Uncooked Paste to Lamb

Now add one box of Ditalini pasta. This is my favorite type of pasta to use for this because it soaks up all the flavor and contrasts nicely with the large chunks of lamb.

Add Water to Cover Pasta and Boil

Add enough water to cover the pasta and boil on high heat stirring occasionally until the pasta is cooked through. At this point you can add chickpeas as that is traditional but I skip this because my kids don’t like them. For the final step, garnish with chopped basil and enjoy!



  • 1.5 lb bone in lamb chunks (or boneless)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or ghee
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt-and more to taste
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 4 cups water-more for pasta as needed
  • 1 16 oz box Ditalini pasta
  • Basil to garnish


Feeds 6-8

1. Heat oil pin a pan and add onions. Cook for five minutes

2. Add lamb along with turmeric, red chili powder, salt, and tomato paste. Stir for 5 minutes then cover with water

3. Simmer gently, partially covered, until lamb is tender. About one hour

4. Add uncooked pasta to the pot and add just enough water until covered. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally until pasta is cooked

5. Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed. Top with fresh chopped basil and enjoy!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: