Harcha is one of the most delicious Moroccan snacks that I came across thanks to my beautiful Moroccan friend, Sarah, who never turns up to a get-together empty handed. So when she arrived for a coffee with a giant harcha fresh from the pan, we wasted no time devouring it with multiple toppings and/or fillings. Harcha is a semolina bread that you can make in any size and fill with savoury fillings such as cheese or sweet such as honey.
- 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) semolina
- 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 7 tablespoons (100 grams) butter
- 1/2 cup (100 ml) milk (or as needed)
Preparing the Dough:
- Place the semolina in a bowl, add the sugar, baking powder and the salt. Mix well. You need semolina for this recipe so do not try to substitute it.
- Melt the butter in the microwave or a saucepan then add the butter to the semolina and mix with a spoon. When it gets hard with the spoon, mix with your hands, Moroccan style!
- Add the milk and mix until you get a smooth dough. Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
Shaping the Harcha:
- Turn on the heat to medium and heat up a heavy cast iron pan!
- Back to the dough… you will notice that it is drier as the semolina has absorbed the milk. If it’s too dry, add a little more milk.
- To get perfect shapes, use a cookie cutter to make medium sized Harcha. You can make a large one, or mini-ones – whatever you like. The discs should be ¼” thick or a bit thicker. When shaping the disks use parchment paper, so it’s easy to transfer them to the pan.
Cooking the Harcha:
- Reduce the heat to low – very important otherwise the harcha will burn from outside and not cook from inside – transfer the harcha to the pan, and cook for 5 minutes on each side. You will see that the surface gets a beautiful golden brown colour and that the discs start to dry. If you try to push on them, they will feel dry. Flip and cook the other side.
- Let the harcha cool a bit and cut it in half with a sharp knife. If the harcha is still too hot and the knife not sharp, it will crumble.
- Fill with cheese, jam, honey, or anything you like!
I was bought a traditional clay tagine pot for my birthday last year and have been meaning to use it for ages. I think I used it once as a decorative serving dish for some fruit but apart from that, it has been sat in the corner gathering dust. It wasn’t until a friend came round and pointed out how much she loved tagine that we decided to do a tagine night with a couple of mates. It was a roaring success and the stew was delicious! I will definitely be using it more often.
You don’t need a tagine pot to make a tagine. The funnel lid is a traditional shape that helps the air circulate in a particular way while cooking but you will get very similar results in a casserole dish too.
There is no right and wrong when it comes to tagine recipes either. Just put what you like into it. I’m sure I’ll have North African grandmothers rolling in their graves at that comment as I bet they have sworn by, top secret recipes for the perfect tagine but in my humble opinion, if you like something, stick it in. Feel free to experiment with spices, meat, fruit, vegetables, nuts and herbs. The slow and low cook in the oven will transform whatever you decide on into a luscious, comforting meal.
- Olive oil and a knob of butter
- 1kg lamb leg, deboned and diced
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tsp each of ground cumin, garam masala
- 1 tsp each of ground coriander, ground cinnamon, turmeric
- ½ tsp allspice,
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree
- 400g tin plum tomatoes
- 500ml chicken stock
- 100g prunes
- 50g pistachios or almonds, shelled
- Fresh coriander, mint, parsley
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Cous cous, flatbreads and tzatziki to serve
- Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a large cast iron pan. When hot, add the lamb in batches and seal on all sides. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and gently sweat for 5 minutes without browning.
- Add the dry spices and harissa paste to the onions and allow the oil to warm the spices and release their flavours. Return the meat and resting juices to the pan and stir well. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 5 minutes on a low heat.
- Add the tinned tomatoes, bring to the boil then add the hot stock. Keep stirring until returned to the boil then place in the pan or a tagine if you have one into the oven for 2 hours or until the lamb is really tender. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the prunes and nuts and chopped herbs and remove from the oven.
- Serve with any grain, bread and dip you like. I went for the classic herby lemon cous cous with my infamous garlic flatbreads and tzatziki dip.