What is harcha?
Harcha is baked on a hot plate or in a frying pan. In Arabic, harcha means “rough”. Rough because it is sprinkled with semolina before baking.
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!
The different types of wheat
- 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.
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.
- 4 cups fine semolina
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 5 teaspoons baking powder
- 14 tablespoons melted butter
- 1¼ cup milk
- Stand mixer
- Cookie cutter
- 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.
Thanks to its starch, it is used to make other non-food, industrial products: paper, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, but also bioethanol.
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.
Algerian kesra is similar to harcha. The difference is that the preparation of kesra requires two sizes of semolina grain, medium and fine. Just like kesra, harcha can often be found at Ramadan tables.