Let’s not exaggerate and simply call this a Moroccan-inspired dish because not being Moroccan myself, and not having any Moroccan friends, cooking an authentic Harira is far from a reality. The best I can do is look around on the net and check out what common ingredients seem to pop up most often, and hope to create some delicious dish without disappointing myself with pipe dreams of authenticity.
Anyway, this is what I’ve come up with so far. If anybody has suggestions or improvements to make, feel free to let me know in the comments section. The beautiful thing about the internet is that recipes can only get better and better as more people try them out and make their opinions known.
This recipe is inspired by what ingredients I happened to have on hand and all those recipes I looked up to see how I could make the best combination of flavours possible like this Food Network recipe or this blogger’s recipe.
Olive oil (extra virgin, preferably… try not to skimp out ’cause the weaker stuff leaves a greasy taste…)
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 ginger (you can substitute with fresh grated ginger if you prefer)
1 tsp smoked paprika (most recipes call for sweet; I only had smoked)
2 cans of chickpeas (398ml size)
1/2 cup of green lentils (I’m sure any kind will do)
1 cup of spicy roasted garlic tomato sauce (it’s what I had on me… most recipes call for canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 bouillon cube (chicken or vegetable)
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tbsp flour or cornstarch (optional if you like a thicker soup)
wedge of lemon for garnish (optional)
plain yogurt (optional)
Heat a medium sized pot over medium heat and add enough oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add onions and garlic and let soften a few minutes until translucent (try not to let it brown). If you’re using fresh ginger instead of dry, now’s the time to add it.
Add all your spices and stir for two minutes. Add a bit more oil if your ingredients are sticking to the pot.
Add your chickpeas with the liquid, and lentils. Throw in the bouillon cube with water and tomato sauce. When the soup is heated, give it a taste before adding salt and pepper – sometimes the bouillon cube and the tomato sauce give it enough flavour as is.
Simmer over med-low heat for 45 minutes, stirring periodically until lentils are cooked through.
If you want a thicker soup, in a small bowl mix the flour or cornstarch with some water until smooth and perfectly blended and add it to the soup. Stir well. The soup should thicken up as you cook it, and will come out even thicker once it’s removed from heat.
Serve with lemon wedges for garnish and/or a dollop of plain yogurt.
* You can add meat if you want… cubed chicken breast is always a good option. Just toss it in while you’re frying up your onions.