Moroccan Harira Soup Will Make Your Day

Four Reasons to Cook at Home

This meal will make your day.

I prefer to cook it in the morning. This is the most auspicious time for spiritual and cooking activities. And if you work in the office, it is a great idea to prepare something for your lunch.

Even though my working place is located in a busy area where restaurants, canteens and cafés abound, I try not to use them due to the following reasons.

The first one is I do not trust them. They can save on ingredients or use vegetables that are not really fresh. Also they can use chemicals or time cutting technologies like half-cooked and frozen food to be heated afterwards. I do not talk about poisonous fast food.

Then, if you go to a restaurant, you wait for some half an hour before your food is ready. Sometimes this is time that I do not have.

And the third reason is budget. You usually pay 5 or 10 times more for the same products. When I prepare soup myself, it costs about 1 or 2 dollars for a large casserole of 6 or 8 large portions. In the restaurant, I pay 5 or 7 dollars for a business lunch with less quality of products.

Yet, the main reason I cook myself is because I insert my positive energy into my meals.

Your Energy Is in the Food You Cook

It is an interesting fact that even with the same recipe every person comes to different results. It is not because he or she deviates from the procedure. Cooking is a very intimate process. Many factors influence it apart from ingredients themselves, time in the stove, volume of every part of, etc.

When I visited India back in 1995, they had much stricter rules, especially in the temples. This cooking area equals altar room. Cooking food is a sacred practice. Only the best of men, qualified and pure in their bodies and mind are allowed inside to cook. No intruders, no incidental people. To be a cook in a Vedic kitchen, you should be qualified, initiated by guru, and accepted by the temple authorities. Another interesting practice is that the food is first offered to temple Deities on the altar, and after They taste it, in small quantities, food is offered to people.

I tell this story because I want you to feel how food preparation can be holy. Do not take it easy. It is a meditative, somewhat sacred process.

But let us go to the cooking process. Do not think I am never going to do it.

Start with Chickpeas in the Evening

So to start with Moroccan harira soup in the morning you have to take care about it from the evening before.

You take a handful of chickpeas (half a cup) and dunk it in a bowl of water for about 4 or 5 hours. I usually put it away for a night. Chickpeas absorb water quite much, and from half a cup it expands to more than a cup.

With chickpeas you have two ways to go. One is to peel them before boiling. Yet their skin is so thin, it is hardly possible to do with your bare hands. But you can use grate to gently roll over them.

The other way is to leave them as they are, with skin, and put in a pot with boiling water. Their skin is not the problem. Yet you need to boil them for about one hour and a half or even two hours so that they are soft and eatable.

I take a large pot or a casserole and pour two liters of water, put it on a medium fire, and empty my bowl of chickpeas into boiling water. I put two teaspoons of sea salt there.

It is a good practice to calculate salt volume. One teaspoon goes for one liter of a meal.

In addition, I use only sea salt. It is much healthier.

Prepare Vegetables for Puree or Mash

While chickpeas are boiling, you take care about vegetables. You will need ingredients for a puree, or mash. I take a couple of tomatoes, an onion and a couple bell peppers (capsicums).

Get your hand blender ready, too.

You have to peel the tomatoes. Do it gently and take off their calyx. This is a term for the place where tomato is connected to its plant. In Russian this greenish item is called gently, ‘an ass of a tomato’.

So you peel tomatoes and cut dice onion and peppers. Then you take a pot and pour some sunflower oil, not much, put it on a soft fire. Put this bunch of vegetables there. As tomatoes and onion, as well as peppers, give out a lot of liquid, you do not need any more water for this cooking. You can make fire a little stronger to get these ingredients toasted.

Add Red Lentils and Rice

Then you take a cup of red lentils and add it to boiling chickpeas. By this time it has been boiling for about an hour. It takes half an hour for red lentils to get ready before I add rice.

Thus, after half an hour I add half a cup of rice. Usually I use basmati, the best long-grain Indian rice, but for the soup any type of quality long-grain rice will fit. It takes twenty or twenty-five minutes for rice to be ready.

At the same time I add greens and salad. Whatever I have available. I use arugula, cilantro, dill, parsley, or some mixture of herbs. I chop them finely and add to the boiling soup.

I also use bay leafs, a couple of them, but do not chop them, use them as they are.

Make Mash with a Blender

As far as my vegetables are concerned, they are toasted or boiled dependent on the quantity of water. It is a good idea to put fire a little stronger at some point to get them a little fried. But at the end, after about half an hour, I add water and put off fire.

Now I take my hand blender and blend it for three or four minutes until it is an amalgam substance, a puree, a mash.

I add this mash to my main casserole with soup.

Now it is time to add spices. I add Indian turmeric powder, a teaspoon of that, and also a teaspoon of grinded paprika powder. Do not confuse it with red pepper as they have similar red colors. Turmeric powder is not as hot as pepper but it can leave smudges on your clothes. They are difficult to get rid of.

Now when our Moroccan harira soup is almost ready, I take half a cup of flour and dilute in cold water. If you put flour as is to boiling water, it forms into lumps. Yet I often do not dilute flour but crush it gently with a table spoon against casserole walls.

I wait for five minutes to be sure that flour is cooked, not raw. I use soup ladle to put it on one of my favorite plates.

It is usually nine o’clock in the morning when I have my breakfast. It is hot and fresh. I put a leaf of salad on the top to make it more pleasing to the eye. If weather is not too cold, I go to my balcony that faces a forest area of a Kiev suburb.

I sit and enjoy the look of my Moroccan harira soup before it cools down. To tell you the truth, it is one of the best dishes that I discovered during my last couple of month of experimenting with vegetarian food.

Mainly I prefer to use Vedic recipes. But Moroccan soup is not Vedic, and many people cook it with meat. But I do not eat meat. I use only vegetarian ingredients. Strictly speaking, onion is not welcome in Vedic Indian cuisine. You can substitute it with asafetida, a spice that smells and tastes like garlic or onion.

Alternative Harira Cooking (I Do Not Cook with Meat)

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Cook Time

Prep time: 6 hours
Cook time: 2 hours
Ready in: 8 hours
Yields: Serves eight large plates of soup

Ingredients

  • Half a cup Chickpeas
  • Half a cup Red lentils
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • Half a cup Rice
  • Two Tomatoes
  • One Onion
  • One Bell pepper
  • Half a cup Flour
  • One teaspoon Paprika powder
  • One teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • Two table spoons Dill, parsley
  • Two piece Bay leaf

Harira Instructions

  1. Put chickpeas in water for a night
  2. In the morning - boil chickpeas, it takes about 1,5h - 2h
  3. Make a mash of tomatoes, bell pepper and onion, with a hand blender.
  4. Add red lentils to boiling chickpeas.
  5. Add rice to the soup.
  6. Add vegetable mash to the soup
  7. Add spices and greens to the soup
  8. Add flour to the soup

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