We made it! It’s been two weeks since my last post and I’m guilt laden for not getting a post up sooner, but it turns out, moving overseas is no small task. My regular computer and command center for blogging isn’t set up yet, so this post comes from my netbook on a small dining table from our apartment in Rabat. Just the same, I’ve got pictures and my first Moroccan recipe to share!
Since we arrived last Thursday, I’ve shopped our local produce stand, butcher, wine shop, and small grocery store. Omar and I also went to the Super Marche Marjane which is sort of like a local Wal-mart, albeit smaller, less-ventilated, and more populated. We even splurged on an immersion blender and a hand mixer! It’s not a KitchenAid stand mixer, but I’m psyched to have some kitchen luxuries while I’m here.
So, onward to the eating and cooking. My first recipe from Morocco is Harira. Harira is a tomato-based soup, often served as an appetizer or first course. It’s very popular in Northwestern Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. Those of us used to cooking in Western cultures might consider it a chickpea or lentil stew, but the way I’ve seen it prepared here is more soup-like in consistency than a stew. I already learned that there are many versions of Harira, some with lamb or chicken, some with rice, some with vermicelli, etc. The recipe that appears below comes from Madame Ayesha, the kind woman who was cooking for Omar before my arrival – now she’s my kitchen tutor :-). This Harira is a vegetarian version and we enjoyed it for lunch. Ayesha used a grater to shred/slice the onion and the tomato, a technique that works very quickly, but takes some care so as not to cut yourself! I’m not sure I’m ready to brave this technique yet!
½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
½ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 medium onion, shredded
1 large tomato, shredded, with pulp
¾ cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
6-8 cups water, divided
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
1 teaspoon curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 15 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cans of chick peas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup flour
In a large heavy bottom pot, add parsley, cilantro, onion, tomato, lentils, spices, and 2 cups of water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Once the lentils have softened, add the olive oil, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and another 2-3 cups of water, stirring to integrate the paste. Let the soup simmer for another 15-20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, in a small bowl mix the flour with another 1-1½ cups of water to make a smooth slurry. Once the soup has simmered for 15 minutes with the tomatoes, add the drained chickpeas and slowly mix in the slurry into the soup to thicken it. Use more or less of the slurry depending on your own preference for the consistency of the soup. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with fresh parsley and cilantro.