May 18, 2024

Harira: A Warming Tradition

Harira, a fragrant tomato-based soup, is a staple on Moroccan tables during Ramadan. Traditionally served at iftar, the meal that breaks the daily fast, it nourishes and brings families together. This recipe features beef, lentils, chickpeas, and noodles in a comforting broth, but variations abound.

Memories of Ramadan

Ramadan transcends religious practice, becoming a time for cultural traditions. The author, raised in the US with Moroccan heritage, reflects on childhood memories of Ramadan with family, both near and far. The days were filled with pre-dawn meals, prayers, and the anticipation of the evening feast.

A Family Feast

Harira wasn’t the only highlight of the iftar table. Dates, milk, hard-boiled eggs, pancakes, and sesame cookies complted the spread. Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan, brought its own traditions. Family gatherings, lamb sacrifice, and elaborate meals celebrated the occasion.

Keeping Traditions Alive

Though their US Ramadans were simpler, the author’s family maintained key traditions. Their father prepared large batches of harira, and they made chebakia cookies using special cutters. Even walnut spoons, a customary utensil for enjoying harira, connected them to their Moroccan roots.

A Deeper Appreciation

These traditions fostered a sense of family, cultural identity, and respect for the food on their table. Even as a secular family, practicing these rituals brought them closer to their Moroccan heritage. Ramadan served as a reminder of hardship followed by ease, a message resonating throughout life.

Experience a Taste of Morocco

This recipe invites you to explore Ramadan through a Moroccan lens. Prepare harira, learn about the holy month, and appreciate the Quran’s message of resilience.

The Recipe: A Warming Embrace

Ready to try a taste of Morocco? Here’s what you’ll need to create your own comforting bowl of harira:

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ¾ cup minced fresh cilantro, divided
  • ¾ cup minced fresh parsley, divided
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup dry brown or green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup no-salt-added canned chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup fideo noodles or broken vermicelli

Instructions:

  1. Building the Base: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the beef, onion, celery, and ¼ cup each of cilantro and parsley. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is browned and the vegetables are softened.

  1. The Simmering Soul: Pour in the water, crushed tomatoes with their juices, lentils, chickpeas, pepper, ginger, salt, turmeric, and cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer. Cover the pot, stirring once or twice during the simmering process. Allow the soup to cook for approximately 45 minutes, until both the beef and lentils are tender.

  1. The Finishing Touch: Give the soup a good stir and add the noodles. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender. Finally, stir in the remaining ½ cup each of cilantro and parsley.

  1. Serve and Savor: Enjoy your harira hot, garnished with additional fresh cilantro for an extra pop of color and flavor.

Nutritional Information:

  • Serving Size: 1 2/3 cups
  • Calories: 318
  • Fat: 7g (Saturated Fat: 2g)
  • Cholesterol: 36mg
  • Carbohydrates: 41g (Total Sugars: 7g, Added Sugars: 0g)
  • Protein: 24g
  • Fiber: 10g
  • Sodium: 695mg
  • Potassium: 958mg

Beyond the Bowl

Harira is more than just a soup; it’s a symbol of warmth, family, and cultural heritage. As you savor its rich flavors, take a moment to appreciate the traditions it represents. Explore further recipes and information about Ramadan to gain a deeper understanding of this holy month and its significance in Moroccan culture.

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