In Morocco and western Algeria, women prepare a dish for breaking the fast: harira.
In this article, you will get to know about the Moroccan soup. For all practicing Muslims, during the month of Ramadan, the Qur’an is clear: no eating from dawn to sunset. “Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn is distinguished for you from the black thread of night. Then perform the fast until night”, dictates the sacred text. The ordeal is hard… and even harder when, from mid-day, the first smells of coriander escape from the kitchens, coming to titillate the hollow stomachs. During the breaking of the fast, women prepare harira, a soup that is easy to prepare in large quantities, and to share – generosity towards the poorest is one of the rules of the fasting month.
The Moroccan soup or harira is part of an ancient tradition, inherited from an Andalusian soup, the bufertuna (from buena fortuna, “good luck”). The exegetes find mention as early as the ninth century of a soup with seven ingredients that resembles it. Inside, diced beef, mutton or chicken, legumes (lentils and chickpeas), crushed tomatoes, spices, herbs, a dash of lemon juice… And, to bind it all together, a crucial ingredient: leaven. It gives the dish its slightly acidic taste and its slightly thick texture.
Every day, after hours of not eating or drinking, gunfire and calls to prayer mark the end of the effort. Dates, sometimes stuffed with butter, symbol of sweetness, and a glass of milk, sign of purity, are then swallowed. Then, one plunges into the bowl of harira the traditional wooden spoon of lemon tree. Instantly, the soup comforts, quenches the thirst, fills the stomach, restores the balance of the body. And reminds the faithful of the meaning of fasting: food is not a due, but a gift from God.
After the harira, we fill ourselves with dried figs, hard-boiled eggs with cumin, bricks, pastries … And, once sustenance, we go to the mosque for the last prayer. On the way back, a second feast begins, made of salads, meats and sweets. Some, already full, skip this step. They prefer to get up before dawn to swallow a bowl of sweet couscous or a wheat soup. The harira is also served on other occasions, to the newborn or the circumcised child, to the convalescents or to the newlyweds. Always fortifying, generous and fragrant
The recipe of the Moroccan soup
What characterizes the harira, compared for example to the chorba, another Maghreb soup? The leaven, which replaces the vermicelli, and the cooking method, in two steps.
Brown the meats (mutton neck, beef chuck or diced or shredded chicken after one hour of cooking) with onions, add water, legumes or even a handful of rice, and saffron filaments.
Separately, mix the crushed tomatoes, sourdough, lemon juice and lots of herbs (coriander, parsley). Add this mixture to the broth, slowly, to avoid lumps.
At the service
These are some of the Moroccan soup needs: Complete with spices – cinnamon, paprika, ras el-hanout, cumin -, a beaten egg or a knob of rancid butter.