أسْكِّيفْ/حْسُوَّة/حْرِيرة البِيظَة/Warm up with Moroccan Cornmeal porridge!/Soupe Blanche à Base de Farine de Maïs à la Marocaine!

It’s so interesting how people choose their favourite breakfast dish from all around the world. Some start their day with eggs, beans, sausages, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, filled buns, toasts, croissants etc.... and others will drink a bowl of Askif, as my mother used to have for breakfast!  Askif (AS-KEE-F) is a dish made by boiling some types of flour, corn, semolina, barley flakes or grits, etc.... in water, or milk, or both (but usually milk is added at the end of cooking), and then the whole thing is stirred up like a soup. In some regions of Morocco, other grains, spices, seeds, herbs and vegetables are added to make Askif.

This is an ancient Moroccan-Imazighen/Shlooh porridge, and it is not a recent invention, dating back to the times of nomadic desert family life-style.  Earlier there were so many various kinds of porridge, along with other dishes which are particularly Shlooh/Imazighen speciality as Tagine/Tajine, Couscous/Saksou, known in English as one-pot meal.  Years ago, these porridges were eaten for lots of meals, because they were inexpensive, but nutritious!

There are two types of porridge in Shlooh/Imazighen Cuisine: Askif and Tagola (TA-GO-LA).  Both are prepared same way, except that no milk is added to Tagola, and their consistency is quite different: Tagola is almost porridge-like, whereas Askif is a thin, pourable drink. Tagola is served as a snack, in a plate, along with some buttermilk and Oudi (Oudy) or butter or honey, whereas Askif is served hot, along with some dates and dried figs, and traditionally drunk out of a Zlafa or Jbaniya (Z-LA-FA - J-BA-NI-YA, whiche means a "bowl"), at very early morning, especially after Fajr prayer or during Ramadan for breaking the fast.

Moroccan-Arabs call this dish "Hsowa or 7sowa" = حْسُوَّة (H-SO-WA) or White Harira/7rira =حْرِيرة البِيظَة; and as for Tagola, they call it, "Assida or 3ssida = عْصِيدَة ".  The letter "H" in "Hsowa" 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 "Harira, Homos, Halal, Hamid, Hamza", etc... Same thing for the word "3ssida", where number 3 stands for the Arabic letter "ع ".  Therefore, when people write in Arabic or Moroccan language, using English or French characters, they have to use numbers, as alternative to the Arabic letters, which have no similar in the English or French alphabet.

For 2 persons / Pour 2 personnes
Makes 250 ml bowls x 2 / Pour 2 bols de 250 ml 
Preparation Time: 30 minutes / Temps de préparation: 30 minutes

Ingredients :

-3 tablespoons corn flour, about 45 gr / 3 c à soupe farine de Maïs, environ 45 gr

-1 tablespoon olive oil / 1 c à soupe d’huile d’olive

-500 ml water / 500 ml de l'eau

-150 ml milk, whole or Semi skimmed / 150 ml de lait, entier ou demi-écrémé

-Some salt / Un peu de sel

Other/Autres Ingredients:

-1 tablespoon honey /  1 c à soupe du miel

-1 fresh mint leaf / 1 feuille de menthe fraîche

-About 50 gr almonds, roughly chopped / Environ 50  d'amande hachées grossièrement

Method / Préparation:

1-Mix corn flour, oil, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. / Mélanger farine, huile, sel et l'eau, puis porter à ébullition à feu moyen.

2-Simmer gently, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the corn flour is cooked.  Don't cover and keep a close eye on it because it can boil over and make a big mess. / Laisser cuire en remuant bien souvent pendant environ 15 à 20 minutes.  Ne pas couvrir et surveiller Askif car sous l'effet de la chaleur elle peut monter vite et déborder rapidement de la casserole.

3-Stir in the milk, add the fresh mint and bring back to a simmer, allow to cook for about 5 minutes.  Add more milk or water to reach the consistency you like. Keep your eye on the pot and if it looks as though Askif will boil over, reduce the heat. / Ajouter le lait et  la menthe et laisser mijoter pendant environ 5 minutes.  Ajouter plus de l'eau ou du lait en fonction de la consistance désirée. Si ça déborder, baisser le feu.
4-Remove the mint leaf. Ladle into individual soup Jbaniya, sprinkling each with chopped almonds and drizzle with little bit of honey. Serve warm with dates and dried figs. Enjoy! / Retirer la feuille de menthe. Verser Askif dans Jbaniya. Arroser d'un léger filet de miel et parsemer d'amandes. Servir avec des dattes ou des figues séchées.

N.B. Askif will thicken as it cools, and if it does, simply stir in additional hot water or milk to thin the soup while reheating over low heat. / Servir immédiatement car en refroidissant, Askif risque de devenir plus épaisse et dense.  Mais, si ça vous arrive, ajouter tout simplement un peu de l'eau chaude ou du lait et bien remuer, puis faire chauffer sur un feu doux.

N.B. The smooth consistency of Askif appeals to children, so when serving to them, add more milk than water and you can leave off the chopped almonds if they are not familiar with, or simply let them choose other dried fruits as a replacement for almonds. / En général les enfant adorent Askif  ainsi que sa consistance bien lisse.  Si vous la servez aux enfants, mettez plus de lait que de l'eau, et pas besoin de parsemer d'amandes, si vos enfants n'aiment pas le goût, ou bien vous pouvez leur demander s'ils préfèrent de les remplacer par d'autres fruits secs.


Hanaâ said…
That brings back memories :-) I haven't made this in a long time! In the north we call it Smeeda. Thanks for the inspiration.
coco said…
looks good !
Rosita Vargas said…
Hola...me da gusto leerte de nuevo..una sopa espectacular luce muy buena ,soy fan de las sopas aquí ya hace frío ,abrazos hugs,hugs.
I never have anything for breakfast, but I'd love to eat that porridge for lunch! A wonderful speciality that is unknown to me.



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