When I was a kid (probably 6 or 7 years old) my parents took me on a road trip to the south of Spain. Eventually, after hours and hours of driving under a massive sunlight, we arrived at Gibraltar (which technically is a British territory). Since we were so close to the north of Africa, I proposed we could go to Morocco, something that unfortunately didn’t happen as the plan was to stay for about a week in Málaga.
Flash-forward to date and I have yet to go to Morocco. Until then, I will try to continue to bring Morocco to me by exploring its cuisine and making my own versions of dishes such as tagine and harira. The latter – a chickpea and lentil soup – is traditionally made with meat (which I obviously don’t consume) and, sometimes, rice and vermiccilli noodles. The soup is cooked for a long period of time – sometimes over an hour – and thickened up with a couple tablespoons of flour, almost verging on a hearty stew. It is a one pot meal, and what a delicious and filling one… I’ve been having Harira for dinner for the last couple of days and I can tell for sure it is the best lentil-based soup I have ever made. Its heart-warming nature makes it just the perfect meal for the few cold winter nights we still have ahead.
- ½ cup / 95 g dried chickpeas, sorted, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup / 215 g puy lentils
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion / 1 cup / 130g finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 medium carrots / 1 cup / 130 g cut into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, coarsely pounded in a mortar
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- a pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 can / 2 cups / 450 ml canned tomatoes, liquidized in a food processor
- 5 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 lemons, quartered
- In a large pot over medium heat add the oil, onion, garlic, carrots, cinnamon, ginger, crushed cumin seeds, pepper and pepper flakes. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened. If the mixture seems dry and the spices start to stick to the pot, add up to ¼ cup of water to loosen things up a bit.
- Add the liquidized canned tomatoes, chickpeas and 5 cups of water to the pot. Turn the heat up to medium-high and let the liquid come to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, lower the heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
- After that time, add the puy lentils and cook, covered, for another 30minutes.
- In the meantime, in a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with ¼ cup of water. Stir well so that the cornstarch dissolves completely.
- At the very last minute of cooking, add the salt as well as the cornstarch mixture to the soup. Give it a good stir with a wooden spoon (it will thicken up a bit thanks to the cornstarch), have a taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve in large bowls, adding a splash of lemon juice to each individual serving.