harcha

Morocco: Harcha

Harcha (حرشة) is a Moroccan bread that takes the shape of a galette and is prepared with semolina and butter or olive oil. #Moroccan #Morocco #196flavors

Morocco

harcha

Harcha will be my last recipe of our Moroccan cuisine journey.

Today, I will speak of a food that is found in all the homes all around the world and that the Greeks called “the food of the gods”: bread.

I love to knead, create, and shape bread. I am a huge fan of homemade bread in any shape or form. Bread … such a simple thing, yet each country has its own recipes .

In Morocco, there is a considerable variety of breads and galettes. Indeed, Moroccan baking also deserves special attention as bread is an essential element of Moroccan cuisine. Harcha, malwi, baghrir, batbout, msemen, just to name but a few.

Harcha (حرشة) is a bread in the form of a galette that is prepared with durum wheat flour, butter or olive oil and milk or water. In the east of Morocco, harcha is also called mbesses.

Harcha is cooked on a hot plate or in a frying pan. In Arabic, harcha means “rough”. Rough because it is sprinkled with semolina before baking.

harcha

Typically, Moroccan breads are prepared with the best known cereal: wheat. Yes but in what form? There isn’t just one single form of wheat.

There are two main types of wheat grown among thousands of varieties: durum wheat and soft wheat. Yes, but between durum wheat, soft wheat, semolina, flour, starch, it can get a little bit confusing!

So, let’s talk about it:

– Durum wheat:
Whole or more or less crushed, durum wheat is used to make semolina, bulgur, pilpil, grains, pasta of all kinds, whole or refined.

– Soft wheat:
It is used to make flour. This flour is used to make breads, pastry products, or viennoiserie.

Thanks to its starch, it is used to make other non-food, industrial products: paper, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, but also bioethanol.

What about couscous? The grain of couscous is made of semolina. It should only be called “couscous”! But many people can not tell the difference between the two and call it semolina, which leads to confusion when one wants to buy one or the other.

– Semolina:
It looks much like flour, but it is more granular and yellowish in color. It is made from durum wheat which is moistened and then ground to obtain grains that are more or less fine. With semolina, you can prepare breads and desserts, like North African makrouds, Moroccan baghrirs, Indian kesari, and even flaounes from Cyprus. When mixed with water, semolina binds together, much like flour. Durum wheat semolina grains come in three sizes: medium, fine, extra fine.

– Couscous:
Couscous is made from semolina. Semolina is wet gradually, and rolled to grow the size of the grains one by one. Then, it is dried and cooked. Couscous is not intended for baking, since when grains are mixed with water, they do not bind together. Couscous comes in fine or medium grain sizes.

I had already prepared a similar bread, a staple of Algerian cuisine called kesra. This bread was just as good as harcha with the difference being that the preparation of kesra requires two sizes of semolina grain, medium and fine. Just like kesra, harcha can often be found at of ramadan tables.

I chose to follow the recipe of Bouchra, our Moroccan cuisine expert who, like me, recommends to serve it for breakfast or accompanied by a mint tea, and covered with honey and/or jam or sour cheese.

You can also stuff harcha before baking it. Meat, cheese, vegetables, everything is permitted!

This harcha is just heaven!

This recipe is validated by our Moroccan culinary expert Bouchra Lakouanane, author of Moroccan cuisine food blog Ma Fleur d’Oranger.

harcha

Recipe of Harcha

Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Rest time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients (for 8 loaves)

    4 cups fine semolina
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    5 teaspoons baking powder
    14 tablespoons melted butter
    1 ¼ cup milk

Preparation

In the bowl of the stand mixer, add the semolina, sugar, salt, baking powder and mix.

Add the melted butter and mix to obtain a sanded mixture.

Add the milk, and mix for one minute.

Let the dough rest for 15 minutes at room temperature, the time it takes for the semolina to absorb the butter and the milk.

Sprinkle the work surface with some semolina.

Spread the dough with your hands (no rolling pin) and then cut out circles using a cookie cutter or a large glass.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and cook each harcha on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

Serve hot or warm.