Well I did say I didn’t want to run a food blog or turn this blog into a food blog. But I AM a foodie: I LURRVEE to eat—preferably GOOD food, of course!
But I made some Moroccan harira tonight, and it was soooo good, I just couldn’t resist blabbing on about it a mite bit.
If you’ve never read this blog before, I will tell you that this is not a blog about Morocco and I do not live in Morocco. Having said that, perhaps one day I might expound a bit on the memories I have of the trips I made to Morocco, in the past…… when I was young and single and swingin’ and all that haha.
So, I’d gotten onto the internet looking for neat harira recipes. I remember when I was in Morocco I had harira practically every day. It was filling and extreeemely flavourful and tasty and zesty and spicy.
Since then I had tried so many times to find harira somewhere that matched the harira I had tasted in Morocco. But outside of Morocco, it never came out the same. Dunno why.
Every family and locality has its own versions of harira. But the basic ingredients tend to be the same. I wondered that people over there had so much time every day to cook up harira from scratch + make a tagine or couscous as well for the whole family. I wondered how they did it.
Someone explained that in Morocco, it seems that they sell powdered harira in marketplaces. And what most housewives do is every morning they go out to the marketplace and buy the version of powdered harira that they like. Or they can buy a large quantity and store it in airtight jars. Then all they have to do, when they want to serve it, is mix it with boiling water.
So I also started searching for powdered harira in Moroccan stores. Needless to say I always came up empty-handed.
In the end I turned to internet—that handy dandy universal encyclopaedia where you can find out about EVERYTHING under the sun—and dug up a few recipes and mixed and matched a bit.
So this is the harira I made. It’s a vegetarian one, because we just had a meat overload (well, a meat overload in my opinion anyway, although my carnivorous son could’ve eaten more!) with a dish with bacon and chorizo.
- 1/2 jar cooked chickpeas (you can of course use dry, raw chickpeas and cook them up, I’m lazy)
- about 1/3 of a small package of yellow split peas (called lentejas peladas here, or the kind of lentils they refer to when they say dhal in Indian cuisine) (you can get them at Mercadona, I use about a third of a package of the ones that they sell at Mercadona). I have now discovered the secret: this is the ingredient that imbues the harira with its mysterious, characteristic earthy flavour that I was never able to reproduce before!
- olive oil
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 large leek, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped into large pieces
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- different spices: I like to use lots so the list would be quite long, but you can throw in whatever you like. Remember, the more the spicier! I use turmeric, cumin, coriander seeds, chilli, garlic salt, ginger, salt and pepper. And I also threw in a VERY generous portion of Moroccan harissa, a spice mix that is quite hot. And a large quantity of curry as well
- different herbs: if you can get them fresh, so much the better. Chop them finely. I didn’t have any fresh herbs and I couldn’t be bothered to run over to Mercadona for herbs, so I just used dried herbs. I used thyme, parsley, basil and oregano.
- bunch of fresh coriander leaves
- chicken stock or chicken broth
1. So, I left the yellow lentils in water overnight, but they can cook just fine if you don’t do this. It’ll just take a little longer to cook them.
2. So then I started by cooking up the lentils. Until they were cooked, I couldn’t do anything else. Just cook them in water until they are like a puré. DON’T USE SALT, or they will get hard.
3. Once the lentils were cooked, I cut up the veggies. In a large soup pot I put in a bit of oil and all the spices. I toasted the spices, then threw in all the veggies except the tomatoes. Stirred the veggies around a bit until they were coated with spice.
4. Then I put in lots of water and boiled the whole thing. It doesn’t take too long, maybe 15 minutes. After that I threw in the tomatoes and chicken stock and gave it a simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
5. Finally tossed in the cooked chickpeas and cooked lentils. Another good long simmer, until the chickpeas were completely done (they don’t come quite completely cooked from the store).
6. At that point I wanted it thicker. I remember the broths I had in Morocco being thick and hearty, almost like thick cream rather than soup. So I took out a cup of soup and dissolved flour in it until the mixture was quite thick. (The recipe I was reading said it should be like a thick crêpe batter consistency, but I made it a lot thicker.)
You pour this thick batter thing VERY SLOWLY back into the soup, stirring all the time so it doesn’t stick to the bottom or form lumps.
7. When the flour is cooked, it’s done! Ta-da!
Serve into bowls. Harira makes a strong first dish if you don’t serve a lot. Or it is so filling you can just have it by itself.
I boiled some eggs and cut up the boiled eggs into each bowl. But it’s like gazpacho, you can throw in anything you like on top: fresh herbs like parsley or coriander, diced ham, pieces of bacon…… (Remember however that Moroccans don’t eat pork, so if you put in ham or bacon it might not be exactly very authentic haha!)
We just had it with some ordinary crusty warm Spanish bread, but you can serve it with Moroccan bread if you’re lucky enough to have access to some. Moroccan bread is very tasty.
If you’re not into vegetarianism and you’re into meat, you can cook it with pieces of meat like pork (although as I said that wouldn’t be very authentic) or beef or lamb.
I used to love lamb. But I swore I would never touch lamb again after having babies. Remember that lambs are BABIES! They’re innocent little baby things that the only thing they have ever tasted in their lives is mother’s milk. And the only thing they have ever known is a mother’s love.
And the lamb you are eating never had the chance to run around in a field (okay I understand sheep don’t exactly do a lot of running but, well, say, to WALK ABOUT in a field, then) and enjoy life. And it was taken away from its mother, who like all mothers probably misses it a lot.
If we all chose to never eat lamb again, people who slaughter lambs for food would have to stop doing it.
Now, I realize that a beef cow or a chicken is also an animal, who used to run around. But I dunno, grown cows and chickens don’t really speak to me as lambs do, I guess. I don’t like beef at all, but it’s because I really hate the taste and feel of the meat, not because I really care anything about the cow, hehe.
Oh well, end of rant. Like I said, if you’re not a vegetarian and you’re into meat, you can also cook harira with pieces of meat.
Okay so this photo is really clunky and graceless. But we don’t have a soup tureen and if we did, I probably wouldn’t use it anyways: just another heavy dish I would have to wash up afterwards! I always spoon the food directly out of the pot and into the serving bowls, so here is ze pot of our homemade harira:
And while we’re at it, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out, here: Thrillers by Moi.
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