In the 9th Behind the Seeds episode, we interviewed Maali Atila Sarih from the south of Morocco at Terra Madre, Slow Food’s convention in Turin in September 2022. Maali was born in Italy but her roots are Moroccan. She told us about harira, a culturally significant dish.
This dish is linked to the holy month of Ramadan, during which no food or drink is eaten between dawn and dusk. The dish is similar to a soup and is accompanied by various traditional dishes. Harira is a traditional Moroccan soup made from tomatoes, lentils, and chickpeas. It is extremely fragrant and has a spicy seasoning. According to Maali, harira is eaten at the beginning of Ramadan. She prepares this dish with her mother and serves it to other family members throughout the festival. This ritual is so ingrained in society that a meal would be incomplete without harira on the table during Ramadan.
The word harira is derived from the Arabic word harir, which means silk, which describes its velvety texture well. This refers to the texture of the soup after it has been thickened with pasta or eggs.
Maali’s version of harira
There are several versions of this dish that use different types of protein to flavour the soup stem, including beef, lamb, and chicken. Maali describes the most basic version, which anyone can make at home with few ingredients but a powerful flavour.
– 1 cup (200 grams) of dried chickpeas soaked overnight and cooked, or 1 (15-ounce/425-gram) can of chickpeas, drained
– 1 cup/370 g of red lentils
– 1 cup of brown or green lentils
– Spices: ginger, black pepper, turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt, cayenne, cinnamon stick and saffron
– 1 onion
– 1 garlic
– Half ginger
– 2 stalks of celery
– 1 can of tomato sauce
– Half a pack of pasta (250g)
– 1 bunch of coriander
– Vegetable broth
– Cinnamon sticks
Heat the olive oil and fry the onion with the ginger, garlic, and celery. Then add the ground spices and cook until the aroma rises in the room. Add the stock, tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, salt, red lentils, brown lentils, and half the coriander. Simmer the stock for 30 minutes when partially covered. Add the chickpeas and pasta and cook for 5-10 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Serve with a slice of lemon, a swirl of yogurt, honey, and the remaining fresh herbs.
This recipe is also available here in our recipe collection.