Vegetarian Harira (Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Stew)

Harira (Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Stew)

Harira is the traditional Moroccan and Algerian soup that's used to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan as well as served after special celebrations like weddings. But there's no reason to confine yourself to making harira for special occasions — it's a delicious and hearty dish at any time. Usually served with lamb, or occasionally beef or chicken, harira is considered to a be a meal all by itself, but vegetarians will find it satisfying alongside buttered rice or a few hard-boiled eggs, with some dates or figs on the side.

There are many regional variations on this dish, but I find this version to be particularly nice and spicy, especially with the addition of harissa as a condiment for the soup. For those of you not familiar with this classic and North African hot sauce made from dried hot chili peppers, garlic and roasted cumin seeds, I've given the recipe for harissa here.

Harira (Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Stew)Vegetarian Harira (Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Stew)
Recipe by
Cuisine: North African
Published on September 28, 2007

Simple, delicious and spicy vegetarian version of a traditional Maghreb soup of chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes and spices

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 14 oz can)
  • pinch of celery seed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 fresh green or red chilies, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated (1 tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2/3 cup green lentils
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • olive oil and harissa for serving
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak for 8 hours or overnight covered in several inches of water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with 4 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the chickpeas are tender but still firm. Drain the chickpeas and reserve 3 cups of the cooking liquid. Add a pinch of celery seed to the reserved liquid and set aside.

  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chilies, garlic, ginger and spices and stir for 2 more minutes, coating the onions with the spices and scraping the bottom of the pan periodically to prevent sticking.

  • Stir in the reserved chickpea cooking liquid and add the lentils, tomato and tomato paste. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as the pan is boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft.

  • Stir in the chickpeas and parsley and let the soup simmer for 5 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in the salt, pepper and lemon juice.

  • To serve, pour some olive oil into a small bowl and spoon some harissa into another. Ladle the soup into bowls and place the olive oil and harissa on the table for people to serve themselves by adding to the soup.

Makes 4 servings


JM said...

Ahhh! I'm making this recipe right now and I just realized that you do not say when to add the hot peppers...

Lisa said...

Ooops! Revisions made.