حريرة/Traditional Moroccan Harira made with Khmira L'baldiya (Sourdough Starter) / Harira marocaine traditionnelle préparée avec Khmira L'baldiya (Levain Traditionnel )

Harira = حريرة, Morocco’s famed national soup, is made with meat (lamb or beef), chickpeas, lentils, coriander, parsley, celery and fresh tomatoes.  Although made throughout the year, Harira is a symbol of Ramadan in Morocco, served almost every day to break the fast with dates,dried figs, fresh milk, juice, coffee, tea and a variety of honey-drenched pastries.  Harira is served in a bowl and traditionally eaten with a special wooden spoon called  "Taghanjat"in Moroccan Shalha (Tamazight) and "Mghorfa"  in Darija.

The letter "H" in "Harira" is not pronounced as in the words "House or Habit ", but it is rather pronounced with a raspy "H", and if I want to write it properly, using English or French characters, I have to use number 7 instead of "H". Number 7, that stands for the Arabic letter "ح" and sounds like "H", but with a deeper breath, like in "Homos, Halal, Hamid, Hamza", etc..

Harira varies from one region to another, in fact varies even from one family to another in the same region.   My mother made her Harira in the traditional way, using a lump of dough from the previous day's bread, covered it and left it rest overnight, and it is called "Khmira Baldiya"which means "Sourdough Starter" or "Levain Traditionnel ", and her Harira was light in texture and was the best one I've ever tasted, so delicious!

Others prefer the thick version with rice or broken vermicelli added to the recipe, then Harira looks like a stew rather than a soup.  Others prefer to add paprika or Ras El Hanout, or cinnamon or ground cumin  or even "Smen Har",which is the Moroccan-Arabic version of Smen, a sort of preserved butter, with a very distinctive, parmesan-blue cheese-like taste.  I personally don't like Smen Har, whose taste makes me slightly uncomfortable.  I rather prefer butter or Oudi, which is an Imazighen (Shleuh) version of Smen.  Others, will stir a beaten egg into Harira just before removing it from the heat etc...

No matter what seasonings of Harira you choose to taste, they are all, undoubtedly and  uniquely delicious and a complete delight to all the senses.  I am sending this recipe for Harira off to this week’s Yeastspotting (the event of all things yeast), created and hosted by Susan of  Wild Yeast.

Taghanjat or Mghorfa


- 250 gr lamb, cut into VERY SMALL bite-sized cubes (you might use beef or chicken) / 250 gr de viande d'agneau coupée en PETITS cubes (vous pouvez utiliser boeuf ou poulet).

-100 gr chickpeas / 100 gr pois chiche

-1 tablespoon butter / 1 c à soupe beurre

N.B: Some people use Smen Har instead of butter, if you like the taste, go for it. You might also use oil if you wish. Personally, I use either butter or Oudi /Certaines personnes utilisent Smen Har au lieu du beurre, si vous aimez son goût fort, mettre un tout petit peu. Moi je n'en mets pas, je mets soit le beurre ou soit  Oudi. Vous pouvez utiliser juste de l'huile si vous voulez.

-1 finely medium chopped onion (finely chop it by hand or with a food processor) / 1 oignon moyen, finement hâché ou passé au robot culinaire

-Pinch pure saffron or safran threads (Since heat releases saffron's flavor essence and so to extract the best flavour out of it, always warm it gently in the frying pan (with no oil) for about 3 minutes, stiring frequentley, then still warm, crush it to a powder either with your hands or with the mortar and pestle) / Une petite dosette de safran pur (Pour que le safran puisse dégager et conserver mieux son arôme, chauffer légèrement à sec les filaments de safran pendant environ 3 minutes en remuant constamment, ensuite, moudre les filaments dans un mortier ou dans le creux de la main).

-1/4 teaspoon of Khar9oum L'baldi or curcuma / 1/4 de c à thé ou à café Khar9oum L'baldi ou curcuma

-1 large handful finely chopped fresh coriander, about 4 tablespoons, (finely chop them by hand or with a food processor) . Keep 1 teaspoon of finely chopped fresh coriander for the end. / 1 belle poignée de coriandre fraîche, environ 4 c à soupe, finement hachée ou passée au robot culinaire. Garder 1 c à thé de coriandre fraîche à la fin.

-1 large handful finely chopped fresh parsley, about 4 tablespoons, (finely chop them by hand or with a food processor) / 1 belle poignée de persil fraîche, environ 4 c à soupe, finement haché ou passé au robot culinaire.

-Some salt / Un peu de sel

-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper / 1/2 c à thé ou à café poivre noir moulu

-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger / 1/2 c à thé ou à café gingembre moulu

-100 gr lentils, picked over and rinsed / 100 gr lentilles, triées et lavées

N.B. I usually use brown lentils, which take about 1h30 to 2 hours to cook, if simmering in a pot over a medium heat, or about 35 minutes if cooked in a pressure cooker.  However, if you use for example, Canadian lentils , which tend to cook faster than brown lentils known in Morocco (Canadian lentils cook in less than 30 minutes), so just remember to adjust the cooking time. / Si vous utilisez autres types de lentilles, i.e. "Lentille Canadien", vous devez ajuster le temps de cuisson.

-1 teaspoon tomato puree or tomato paste / 1 c à thé ou à café concentré de tomates

-About 8 medium fresh tomatoes, chop them with a food processor / Environ 8 tomates fraîches, passées au robot culinaire

-2 or 3 soup lamb (or beef) bones / 2 or 3 d'os d'agneau (ou boeuf) pour la soupe

-1 large handful finely chopped fresh celery stalks with leaves, about 4 tablespoons. Finely chop them by hand or with a food processor. /1 belle poignée de céleri frais avec feuilles, (environ 4 c à soupe), finement hachées ou passées au robot culinaire.

Khmira Baldiya or  Sourdough Starter / Mélange de Khmira Baldiya ou Levain Traditionnel :

-5 tablespoons white flour (generally we use white flour but you might use any baking flour you prefer) / 5 c à soupe de farine blanche (vous pouvez utiliser toute sorte de farine qui vous convient).

-About 50 ml Khmira Baldiya or Sourdough Starter / Environ 50 ml de Khmira Baldiya ou Levain Traditionnel

-More or less 100 ml warm water / Plus ou moins 100 ml de l'eau tiède

 Method / Préparation:

1- Put the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with enough cold water, and let soak overnigh. The next day, drain them and remove skin from chickpeas / Faire tremper la veille le pois chiche. Le lendemain, égoutter-les et jeter l'eau de trempage et éplucher-les.

2-Heat butter in a very large pot and add the cubed lamb. Fry very quickly over high heat until lightly browned, stirring constantly / Faire chauffer le beurre dans une grande marmite et faire revenir la viande sur feu vif juste pour la faire légèrement dorer.

3-Stir in all the ingredients except salt. Then simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring constantly. / Ajouter tous les ingrédients sauf le sel. Laisser mijoter pendant environ 10 à 15 minutes, en remuant constamment.

4-Add about 1 liter of hot water. / Ajouter environ 1 litre de l'eau chaude.

5-Give it a stir, lower the heat, cover, and let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. / Remuer tous les ingrédients, couvrir, baisser le feu et laisser cuire pendant 1 1/2 à 2 heures en remuant occasionnellement.

N.B. If Harira becomes too thick, add some more hot water. / Si Harira est trop épaisse rajouter un peu de l'eau chaude.

7-After about 1 hour and a half, check if chickpeas and lentils are tender, if so, then go to step 8, if not, cover and let Harira simmer for another 30 minutes or more. / Après une heure et demi de cuisson, vérifier la cuisson des lentilles et pois chiches qui doivent être tendres, si ils sont cuits, allez à l'étape 8, sinon couvrir Harira et laisser cuire pendant 30 minutes ou plus.

8-Stir khmira baldiya with water and flour, stir well the mixture and then add it into hot Harira (ONLY A SMALL PORTION AT A TIME) and keep stirring. It is very important to keep stirring while you're adding the flour mixture to Harira. Add salt and let cook for 30 minutes over VERY LOW heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking and to prevent lumps from forming. Then add 1 teaspoon of fresh coriander finely chopped and stir. Simmer Harira uncovered over very LOW heat. / Mélanger khmira baldiya, de l'eau et farine, puis bien mixer le tout et l'ajouter au Harira chaude (PAR PETITE QUANTITE SEULEMENT, NE VERSER PAS TOUT LE MELANGE A LA FOIS), en remuant constamment pour empêcher Harira de coller et aussi pour empêcher la formation des grumeaux. Puis ajouter le sel et 1 c à thé de coriandre fraîche et remuer le tout. Ne pas couvrir, laisser cuire pendant 30 minutes, toujours sur un feu TRES DOUX.

9-Then at this point, Harira needs to be tasted to check the seasoning.  Add more salt or black peeper if you wish. / C'est le temps de goûter pour vérifier l'assaisonnement de Harira. Ajouter plus de sel ou de poivre noir moulu, si vous voulez.

N.B. Add more hot water to reach the consistency you like. My family likes a thin, pourable drink version of Harira.  If you like stew version, then simply add more flour mixture. / Ajouter plus de l'eau chaude en fonction de la consistance désirée. Chez nous, et sans exception, nous aimons bien la version de Harira un peu légère.  Mais, si vous aimez la version ragoût, bien épaisse, alors ajouter plus de mélange de farine.
10-Serve hot with dates or dried figs / Servir chaud avec dattes ou figues sèches.


ann low said…
Thanks for sharing this interesting recipe ;D
Absolutely fantastic and truly very interesting......
Unknown said…
Well I'd never heard of this before today but now two people have mentioned it to me in the space of an hour. It looks delicious and I will have to try it.
Anonymous said…
bonsoir khadija .ta soupe est un delice ma chere compliments et bravo

un bisous a ta famille
Unknown said…
bonsoir khadija .ta soupe est un delice ma chere compliments et bravo

un bisous a ta famille
Great recipe but never tried though, love your step by step method, shall try it....good job!!
Nina said…
Thank you for your visit and comment!
I love this soup too! compliments and see you soon!
Özlem Ekşi said…
Thanks for visiting my blog "Evdepasta" and for your lovely words. I am following your recipes too. Lots of hugs from Turkey.
Joanne said…
This looks quite delicious! I've never seen anything quite like it...definitely need to give it a try.
Katy ~ said…
You know I just love your cooking and would love to try a nice scoopful of this. I am not a fan of coriander but I think there are enough other flavors where this flavor would not be too dominant.

Thank you for posting this lovely soup recipe.
Alessandra said…
Good the Harira! I have eaten it in Morocco and I have sometimes prepared it, I adore its particular taste in comparison to our soups.
kisses Alessandra
Nadji said…
Excellente soupe.
J'aime beaucoup même si je n'en ai pas encore fait.
Il va falloir m'y mettre.
A bientôt.
Anonymous said…
just done the harira for a first time. changed a couple of things. i feel like being in morocco. it is so good. thanks for the recipe. seriously i am amazed how good this turned out. merci
Very interesting and intriguing! I'd love to taste that soup.