When I first tried this flavorful Libyan recipe, I was hooked. I set out on a mission using Morton & Bassett Spices® to make my own version of Imbakbaka and break down what was in the mysterious 7-spice, also known as Bazaar Spice, that the recipe requires. My friend’s father helped me by sharing their family recipe so I can share this amazing dish with all of you.
This post is sponsored by Morton & Bassett Spices®, my go-to brand for high-quality spices. The spices can be found at your nearest Albertsons. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Why this Recipe Works
Imbakbaka is simple and delicious, even considering the complicated spice mix! A slow cooked one pot recipe is the best way to make simple cooking super tasty.
I have taken the spice blend usually used in this recipe and broken it down into components so you can make the dish even if you cannot find Bazaar spice.
The combination of sweeter spices like nutmeg and caraway powder with spicy cumin and paprika in a tomato broth makes an unbeatable flavor explosion.
Simmering the chicken thighs in the spice broth infuses them with great flavor and gives them a tender, fall-off-the-bone texture.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Whole chicken - This recipe uses a whole chicken, cut into 8 parts. You can also choose your favorite chicken parts and just use that. Using a whole chicken can be a more economical choice.
Spices - it is important to use fresh, high-quality spices. Dried spices expire and are much less potent when they do.
Jalapeños - I have made this dish with other spicy peppers, so choose your own adventure. I would recommend using peppers with a similar heat level to jalapeños.
Pasta - traditionally, this recipe uses spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces. I have tried many variations from bucatini to shells and have found ditalini to be my favorite.
How to Make this Recipe
The first step is to bring 5 cups of water to boil in a kettle or over the stove.
In the meantime, sauté one diced or thinly sliced onion in 3 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat until translucent. They should make your kitchen smell amazing!
Add eight pieces of the chicken to your pot. Season with all the spices, including salt and pepper, and brown the chicken all over.
Next, add 5 minced garlic cloves, 3 ounces of tomato paste, 3 jalapeños sliced lengthwise, and 5 cups of boiling water or hot broth/stock. The chicken should be covered, so add more if necessary.
You’ll want to raise the heat to high, and bring the broth to boil., Then immediately reduce the broth to simmer and cook the contents of the pot for 25-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Note: Do not boil the chicken, just simmer it. If you boil the chicken, it will be tough. Simmering it on low will yield a tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken.
In the meantime, cook your ditalini pasta until just under al dente. Strain in a colander until ready to use.
Note: You can cook the pasta in the dish, but you will need to add up to 8 cups of water/stock instead of 5. I cook the noodles separately as a personal preference. The noodles will soak up all the liquid overnight, and I prefer the leftovers when the noodles are added just before serving.
Bring the pot with the chicken back to a boil and add the pasta. Heat the pasta in the broth for 2-3 minutes just before serving to finish the cooking process.
Note: If using par-boiled noodles, you can add them just before serving. They will take an extra minute or two to cook in the broth than they would in water.
Use a big ladle to serve and enjoy a delicious bowl of Imbakbaka!
Yes, it is quite spicy. If you’re not a fan of spice, this isn’t the dish for you unfortunately!
Traditionally, the right pasta to use are small pieces that you can get by breaking up spaghetti pasta with your hands into two-inch sections. I’ve chosen to use a small pasta variety, ditalini, but in the past have used other types like pasta shells.
7-Spice, also known as Bzaar Spice, is a spice mix made up of the following ingredients: allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and ground coriander. You will also sometimes find nutmeg, cardamom, paprika, cayenne, and turmeric.
You could use any cut of chicken like thighs, breasts, or legs, whichever you prefer. I like to use a whole chicken as it's the most economic and sustainable way to have plenty of food plus great leftovers!
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Imbakbaka - Libyan Chicken Pasta Dish
- 4 lb. chicken cut into 8 pieces
- ½-1 lb. pasta cooked al dente and drained
- 3 tablespoon canola oil or other flavorless oil
- 1 yellow onion diced or sliced into half moons
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 3 oz. tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon corriander powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1-2 teaspoon salt
- 3 jalapeños sliced in half lengthwise
- Bring 5 cups of water to boil in a kettle.
- Sautee the onion in 3 tablespoons of canola oil over medium-high heat until translucent.
- Add the chicken, season with all the spices including salt and pepper, and brown on all sides.
- Add 5 minced garlic cloves, 3 ounces of tomato paste, 3 jalapeños sliced lengthwise, and 5 cups of boiling water or hot broth/stock. The chicken should be covered, so add more if necessary.
- Raise the heat to high, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 25-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Bring back to a boil and the cooked and drained pasta. Cook for 3 minutes and serve.
This post was originally published in November of 2017 but was republished with new photos, step by step instructions, FAQs, and tips in November of 2021.