Brace yourself readers, we’re going to be talking the C-word today.
Now, don’t be alarmed. It’s not a dirty word nor is it the root of all evil. As the Greediest Girl in the World, you can imagine that I’m quite the carb cheerleader, so imagine my despair when I had the Thrilling Three (sadly not Chris Evans and Ioan Gryffud but rather my best friends) round for dinner last night and one declared that she was going carb-free!
I was mortified. I’d only gone and whipped up a three-carb dinner.
Moroccan harira was one of the first recipes that had caught my eye in the Leon cookbook. It wasn’t just the holy trinity of lentils, chickpeas and rice that had seduced me but the fragrant warmth of cumin, coriander and saffron cut through with a sharp lift of lemon and parsley.
Whilst it’s included in the Leon book in the soup chapter, don’t be fooled – this is a full-bodied stew, redolent of the smoke, dust and heat of Morocco (or so I imagine…) Harira is traditionally prepared to mark the end of fasting for Ramadan, which goes some way to explaining the triumvirate of carbs in this dish. But it isn’t only that which makes this such a satisfying dish, the strong and vibrant flavours really sing out and is the perfect balm to soothe ruffled feathers on a wet, dark weekday evening. It’s incredibly quick to prepare, requiring the minimum of fuss, after-work cornershop trips and best of all, thought. Store cupboard bliss.
adapted from Leon by Allegra McEvedy
130g green lentils
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
2 generous tablespoons curry powder or spice mix (anything which involves cumin, coriander, tumeric etc)
2 tablespoons harissa (substitute chilli sauce if you can’t get hold of harissa)
a large pinch of saffron
1 large red onion, diced
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
juice of a lemon
75g white basmati rice
2 tablespoons plain flour
a generous handful of parsley, chopped
salt & pepper
Drain the chickpeas, add into a large saucepan (the biggest you have) along with the onion and cover with 1.5 litres of water. Bring the mixture to the boil.
In a small bowl, soak the saffron strands in the lemon juice.
Add the lentils, spices and harissa to the saucepan and continue cooking for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
Add the basmati rice to the pan and continue cooking on a gentle simmer.
Meanwhile, in another small bowl mix the flour with a little cold water to form a smooth paste. Add a few tablespoons of the stock from the pan into the flour mixture and combine. Add this, along with the lemon and saffron mix to the pan and stir thoroughly. Leave to cook for 5 minutes and return armed with seasoning and parsley. Serve immediately to sighs of contentment.