By Cheryl ForbergHarira is a spicy Moroccan stew, often made with lamb, vegetables and starchy legumes that thicken the broth
It's also richly flavored with spices -- cumin, turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon. Traditionally, Harira is served for dinner during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, to break the fasting that takes place during the day.
I learned a lot about Ramadan cuisine first hand when I lived in Los Angeles. For a number of years, I was a private chef to a Saudi Prince. Each year at this time, the family's chefs would prepare all of the authentic dishes of this holiday. Though language was often a barrier, I learned many of their prized recipes by taking notes in the kitchen and watching them measure and taste each scrumptious dish.
I love making Harira year round, not only because I adore the complex flavors and textures, but because the recipe is so forgiving. If you enjoy eating meat, lamb and chicken are great additions. But my vegetarian version is equally satisfying and I can use just about any bean or legume I choose. Though garbanzos and lentils are traditional, I love to use fava beans.
The fava, also known as the broad bean, is a popular staple in the Middle Eastern diet, where fresh, dried, and canned fava beans are a mainstay of everyday fare. A native dish, foul muddamas or foul, is another tasty stew and it's a standard at mealtime, from breakfast through dinner, served with soft, warm stacks of fresh pita bread.
Favas contain an unbeatable amount of soluble fiber, which is why a daily serving may lower blood cholesterol by as much as 18 percent, decreasing the risk of heart disease by more than 50 percent. In addition to high protein and fiber, the fava bean has a unique water-soluble protein that has shown remarkable ability as an antioxidant.
If you prefer, you can use the traditional garbanzo bean, also known as chickpeas. The nutty-flavored chickpea is rich in protein and delicious when blended with garlic and spices for a highly-seasoned dip called hummus or formed into balls and deep-fried in tasty sandwiches called falafel.
When dried and ground, the protein-rich chickpea can also be used as flour, for sweet and savory dishes, such as socca, a tender and savory crepe from the South of France.
A rich source of phytosterols (the cholesterol clone), chickpeas promote heart health by decreasing the absorption of cholesterol. Like favas, they’re also loaded with fiber, thus increasing satiety, which may keep obesity under control by reducing overall intake.
This recipe takes only minutes to prepare and makes a fairly large batch (8 cups).
It freezes well, so I love to freeze one cup containers for a quick lunch on the run.
This vegetarian version is loaded with fiber. Fire-roasted tomatoes give an added smoky flavor dimension.
Yield: 2 quarts; Four large (2-cup) servings or eight small (1-cup) servings
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
8-inch celery stalk
, cut crosswise into 4 pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 cups fat-free chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups (12.3 ounces)Melissa’s Cooked Fava Beans
(or garbanzos or lentils)
1 ½ cups chopped fire-roasted tomatoes (14.5 ounce can)
Salt and pepper, to tasteGarnish
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
, without stems
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring, until the spices are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add beans and tomatoes, and simmer about 10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro.
If reheating soup the second day, you may need to thin it with additional broth, readjust the seasoning, and add more fresh cilantro.Nutrient Analysis
per large 2-cup serving
Nutrient Analysis – per serving
Fat calories 40
Total Fat g 4.5
Sat Fat g 0
Chol mg 0
Sodium mg 450
Total Carb g 1
Fiber g 8
Sugars g 6
Protein g 10
Vitamin A IUs % 10
Vitamin C % 35
Calcium % 6
Iron % 10