If you’ve come across our blog in the past, you know we’re very enthusiastic when it comes to Moroccan food and in this post, we’ll share another traditional Moroccan dish with you. In this post, we’ll show you the traditional harcha recipe and teach you everything you need to know about this sweet, tasty Moroccan pastry.
But let’s start from the beginning…
What Is Harcha?
Harcha is a Moroccan pan-fried bread made from semolina flour. At a glance, harcha slightly resembles an English muffin but its texture and taste are quite different. The ingredients for the harcha recipe vary greatly from family to family and from one region to another but for this recipe, we chose a variation that uses slightly more butter and milk to make it more creamy. Traditionally, harcha is consumed for breakfast (similar to the way pancakes are consumed for breakfast in the US) or as a snack on its own or alongside some mint tea.
It’s widely accepted that harcha originates from the Middle Atlas region of Morocco, an area traditionally inhabited by Berber tribes. As for the name, this delicious pastry got its name from the Arabic word “harcha”, meaning rough. This refers to the sprinkling of semolina before baking that gives the dough a rough texture. Even though there isn’t much information about the history of harcha, it’s likely that it first version of it appeared during Medieval times.
Traditionally, most Moroccan breads are prepared with wheat but wheat comes in different forms in different recipes. The two most common forms for preparing the harcha recipe are durum wheat (whole durum wheat is used to make semolina) and soft wheat (used to make flour).
In addition to this, the harcha recipe can vary based on its filling. Harcha is usually filled with honey or jam but it can also be stuffed with cheese, olives, meat, or vegetables. Based on this, harcha can be sweet, savory, or even spicy (even though the last is not very common).
And last but not least, there are also regional variations. In the eastern part of Morocco, you’ll find a dish very similar to harcha known as mbesses. In Algeria, there’s a similar pastry called kesra. The main difference between the two is that the preparation of kesra uses medium and fine semolina grain while harcha typically uses semolina flour made of whole durum wheat.
Harcha is traditionally served for Ramadan but you can enjoy it anytime. Most usually, it’s served with honey and butter alongside some mint (or any other kind of) tea and is traditionally eaten as a breakfast or as a snack during the day. However, this isn’t the only way you can serve it. You can get creative and serve it with any spread you like (for example, I like eating it with amlou). You can use honey, jam, cream cheese, Nutella, or even peanut butter. Heck, you can even turn it into a sandwich stuffed with meat confit or cheese or even crumble it and use it in a stew.
Enjoying this post? Then you may also want to check out some of our other Moroccan recipes!
- The most difficult thing about the harcha recipe is preparing the dough. The dough can crack and be slightly difficult to work with. That’s why it’s probably a good idea to either cut out your harcha or form it by rolling and flattening the dough balls.
- If you want your harch to be richer, consider using extra milk and butter.
- Harcha can also be vegan; using non-dairy milk and vegan butter is acceptable and won’t drastically affect the flavor.
- You can also coat the pastry with semolina before frying for a nicer texture.
- Harcha is tastiest when served on the same day when it was prepared. However, you can store it in an airtight container in the fridge for a day or two and you can store it in the freezer for up to a week.
- Don’t slice the harcha while it’s still hot because it tends to be very tender and crumbly. Wait for 10-15 minutes for the pastry to cool off and cut it afterward.
- Or alternatively, just make thinner doughballs and serve the flatbreads without slicing.
- If you want to, you can also make a syrup by heating equal portions of honey and butter until it becomes bubbly.
A Few Things You May Need
- • 2 cups (350 grams) Fine Semolina
- • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons Sugar
- • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder
- • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- • 1/2 Cup Butter (melted)
- • 1/2 Cup milk
- • Optional: 1/4 cup coarse semolina
- • Fillings (optional): jelly, cheese, peanut butter, or Nutella
1. Melt the butter.
2. Add the semolina, baking powder, butter salt, and sugar to the mixing bowl.
3. Blend the mixture with your hands or a spoon until it reaches sand-like consistency.
4. Add the milk into the mixture and mix until the dough forms. The texture should be moist and wet. If necessary, add more milk to reach this consistency.
5. Start shaping the dough into tiny balls and when done, leave the dough to rest for 10-15 minutes.
6. Preheat your frying pan over medium-low heat.
7. In the meantime, start stretching the dough balls (with your hands, not with a rolling pin) and flatten each dough into a disc. The ideal thickness is around ¼ inches.
8. Use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut the dough into evenly-sized discs. In the end, you can use the scraps to make more harcha.
9. Add the disk to the frying pan and cook it on low-medium heat for 5-6 minutes on each side until the bread gets a medium golden color.
10. Let the harcha cool down for 5-10 minutes and use a sharp knife to cut the bread in half crosswise.
11. Serve while it’s still warm alongside sam jam, honey, cheese, or a topping of your choice.
Serving Size:8 pieces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 126mgCarbohydrates: 28gNet Carbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 5g
Did you ever try Moroccan harcha and if so, did you like it? How did you like our harcha recipe? If you tried it, don’t forget to leave us a rating.
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