Behind the seeds – The traditionnal “Harira”, with Maali Atila Sarih (Morocco)

In this 9th “Behind the Seeds” episode, we interviewed Maali Atila Sarih from south of Morocco at Terra Madre, Slow Food’s convention in Turin last September. Maali was born in Italy but her roots are Moroccan – her mother is Arabic. She told us about a culturally important dish – Harira.

Find out more about Harira, a Moroccan delicacy, and its significance in Moroccan culture.

Harira – a Cultural Tale

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.

Harira ©️ feastingathome

Maali’s varient 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.

Ingredients for the harira ©️ feastingathom


– 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

– Honey

– Lemon

Preparation: 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 yougout, honey and the remaining fresh herbs.

This recipe is available here, in our recipe collection.

Behind the seeds | The traditionnal “Harira”, with Maali Atila Sarih (Morocco)


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