Harira is one of my favorite Moroccan dishes. There are many variations but they all include legumes (usually lentils and chickpeas), tomato, onion, turmeric, and herbs. It is sometimes thickened with egg or a slurry (a mixture of flour and water, called a tedouira in Moroccan cuisine), although it will thicken on its own if left overnight.
Harira is a dish traditionally served during Ramadan, but can be enjoyed throughout the year. You will also find it in Jewish homes during Yum Kippur. It’s hearty, delicious, and nutritious. And although soups and stews might not be your normal go-to during summer months, the herbs and lemon in this one make it surprisingly fresh and light all year round.
I have read that the name “harira” derives from the Arabic word for silk due to the stew’s silky texture.
Although classic versions include lamb or lamb broth, it is also easy to make vegetarian, as in the recipe below.
Moroccan Harira (Chickpea and Lentil Stew)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Cook method: simmer
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 carrots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cans (14 oz) tomatoes (with juice)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro and parsley
- 1 cup dried chickpeas*
- 1 cup green or red lentils, rinsed
- 1/2 cup broken thin pasta (vermicelli, angel hair, etc.)
- water or vegetable stock (4-6 cups)
- olive oil
- corn starch
- lemon for serving
*(You can also use 3 cups of rinsed, canned chickpeas. Simply omit the first step.)
1. Soak the chickpeas overnight. The next day, rub them vigorously in a kitchen towel to remove the skins. Simmer the chickpeas, uncovered, until mostly tender, about 1 hour.
2. Finely chop the onions, celery, and carrots, and mince the garlic.
3. In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pan, heat the olive oil and add the onions, celery, and carrots. Add a generous pinch of salt, then cook over medium for 5 minutes until softened.
4. Add the garlic, herbs, and zest, and cook for 1 minute.
5. Finley chop the canned tomatoes (you can also use fresh, blanched and peeled). Then add the tomato, half the herbs, the chickpeas, and the lentils. Season with more salt. Simmer until the legumes are tender, about 40 minutes.
6. Add the broken pieces of pasta, and cook for a few minutes. (For a gluten free harira, just leave this out or add 1/4 cup long grain rice and cook until tender).
7. While the pasta is cooking, create a tedouira (slurry) by mixing 2 tbsp corn starch with 1/4 cup water. Slowly add a bit of the mixture to the pot until it is as thick as you like it (you will probably not need to add all of it). For a slightly thinner consistency, simply omit this step.
8. Serve sprinkled with fresh herbs and lemon wedges on the side.
Are you interested in sampling fabulous Moroccan fare in Mexico? Check out our Moroccan cooking vacations!
By Peg Kern
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