Creating new perspectives since 2009

Libyan Imbakbaka

This rich and tomatoey stew filled with meat and pasta is perfect if you’re looking for something that screams instant warmth!

January 16, 2021 at 9:00 am

Winter is definitely the season for comfort food and I am always trying to think of really hearty and delicious meals that are quick and easy to make, but also very flavourful. One of my favourite dishes is a Libyan dish called Imbakbaka. This rich and tomatoey stew filled with meat and pasta is perfect if you’re looking for something that screams instant warmth!

The name of this dish is said to have come from the sound the stew makes when it boils. Whether or not this is true, I can say that it is music to my ears! One of the best parts is that it is a one pot wonder and you truly need a big pot and wooden spoon and little else! It is traditionally made with lamb, but many people make it with chicken, I suggest using thighs, so they stay moist, or leave out the meat altogether. I recommend using bone-in meat because it is going to form a really flavourful broth, which you’ll cook your pasta in. I chose only to add in chickpeas, but this dish is a great way to use up any vegetables you have lying around, like potatoes or courgettes. It is similar to minestrone soup and that is because of the Italian colonisation of Libya, which influenced their cuisine. It is also a great dish to make on the spot, because the ingredients are mostly pantry staples!

If you are adding vegetables to this dish, you’ll want to add them in when your meat is almost cooked, before you add the pasta, as the pasta will cook quickly. Traditionally, smaller pasta shapes are used, but you could also break up some spaghetti and use it. Once you add your pasta, make sure to stir it occasionally to stop it from sticking to the bottom of your pot.

Whatever you choose to add to your Imbakbaka, I am sure it will become a firm favourite in your house and something you’ll crave a bowl of to curl up with on a cold winter’s day.


3 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

500 g lamb chunks, bone in

3 tbsp tomato paste

2-3 tbsp Bzar spice mix

Water (enough to cover the meat)

400 g chickpeas (optional)



2 cups small pasta

Fresh chillies (optional)


  1. To make the Bzar spice mix, mix together 2 tbsp turmeric, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp cinnamon, ½ tbsp ginger and 1 tsp ground cloves.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil and add the onions. Sauté until the onions are soft. Add in the meat chunks and brown the meat well.
  3. Add in the tomato paste and mix well. Let this cook for about a minute then add the Bzar spice mix. Cook together and add the water.
  4. Bring the mixture to the boil, cover, lower the heat and leave to cook until the meat is tender. If you are adding veggies, add them in halfway through the meat cooking time.
  5. Once the meat is cooked and tender, add in the pasta, salt, pepper and fresh chillies if you are using them. Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  6. Cover the pot, stirring occasionally so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Cook until the pasta is ready and the sauce has thickened to your liking.
  7. Serve and garnish with chopped parsley or coriander and enjoy