Harira

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Harira Soup

Provided by Abdelghaffar Bougrine, Chef de Cuisine at La Sultana in Marrakech, Morocco

http://lasultanahotels.com/eng/marrakech

 

La Sultana is one of Marazakech's most prestigious hotels and restaurants. We dined there whilst researching our guide to the city and enjoyed two dishes in particular, and this is one of them so we're really happy that La Sultana has allowed us to share it with you! If you'd like to know more about Chef Bougrine there's a short interview with him after the recipe.

 

Ingredients:

  • 50g green lentils
  • 20g crushed chickpeas (dry chickpeas need to be soaked overnight before you can cook them alternatively use chickpeas in a can.)
  • 2 bunches of chopped coriander
  • 1 bunch of chopped celeriac
  • 50g concentrated tomatoes
  • ½ tbsp of salt
  • ½ tbsp of pepper
  • 1 tbsp of dry ginger powder
  • ½ tbsp of dry saffron powder
  • 6 tbsp of Olive oil
  • 100g white flour

Process:

  • Using a large pot, pour in lentils, salt, pepper, ginger, saffron, and olive oil, and then after a minute put in enough cold water to cover the lentils by an inch.
  • Bring everything to boil, and then turn the heat down to simmer. Cook the soup on “simmer” (a very low temperature) for about 15 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  • Then, add the chickpeas, the concentred tomatoes, the chopped coriander and celeriac, give a stir & cover the pot.
  • Finally, pour slowly the white flour while stirring and let it cook over a low heat approximately 20 minutes.
  • Serve with a couple of dates and a ¼ lemon to squeeze

We asked Chef Bougrine a few questions with the aim of getting to understand more about food in Morocco, and his own views on certain subjects that are important to us all nowadays. Here is what transpired.

 

What was your favourite food when you were growing up?

My favourite food was my mother’s Couscous with 7 vegetables; this is a staple food of Moroccan cuisine. We would eat it on Friday, our holy day, as it is a Moroccan traditional custom to celebrate this holy day with family around a Couscous dish.

 

What was your town or village like? We'd like to know as much about the world surrounding your favorite food as possible. If you can, please give us the recipe for this food.

I was born and raised in Fez Morocco, a city renowned for its gastronomy in Morocco. What I found extraordinary in the Couscous food is how it has been refined in every region with the local products. The Couscous dish is a seafood couscous in cities nearby the sea, a camel meat couscous in the desert region, herbs & goat meat couscous in the Atlas Mountains...

 

The Couscous is the national dish of Morocco influenced by regional flavours that makes it so special and show how the country is diverse in terms of natural environment and food influences.

 

What inspired you to become the chef that you have become?

As a child I used to watch my mother cook for the family and prepare many different types of sweet & savory food as this is often the case in a Moroccan family (the mother would cook main dish & salads and would also cook their own Moroccan pastries, the father would be in charge of bringing all the seasonal ingredients).

 

Then at the age of 10, I began to help her cook and became her little cook assistant. Most importantly she shared her passion for cooking with me and passed on all her knowledge.

 

Later on, I took on hospitality management studies and continued to be inspired on a daily basis by renowned Chefs I had the privilege to work with. I am proud to cook for the finest table of the country today.

 

What advice do you have for people who want to eat healthier. Should they eat organic? Or is eating locally produced food better?

In my opinion, the best advice is eating locally produced food as it leads to fresh ingredients and a better value for money as less transport is involved. Also this leads at a larger scale to less additive/pesticide in the production as it is a short way from producer to consumer.

The basic key to healthy diet is eating nutritionally balanced meal (with glucides, proteins, lipids) and eating a wide varied kind of food (match vegetable with each season is an easy rule to rotate the vegetable throughout a year).

 

And finally, if you had to limit your diet to include only 25 individual types of food, what would you choose (kale, apples, spirulina, spinach, chia, sweet potato, goji, etc) for maximum active and general lifestyle benefit?

I would choose simple & basic types of food for a healthy body and food I am fond of as a gourmet: meat, fish, sea food, zucchinis, beans, spinach, broccoli, rocket, garlic, onions, tomatoes, carrots, peas, potatoes, parsley, coriander, ginger, lemon, apples, banana, figs, Moroccan dates, sultanas, orange, strawberries, goat cheese.

 

If you'd like to know more about La Sultana in Marrakech please visit http://lasultanahotels.com/eng/marrakech

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