During Ramadan, the Moroccan Iftar table has seen some improvement through the last 3 decades.:most of us love having some little bites on our Ramadan table, surrounding the main soup of the day for a first meal.
How did the Moroccan Harcha evolve?
In the old time, Harcha (see my extensive post about it here), or the Moroccan semolina galette (also found in Algeria under a different name) used to come plain, with herbs, stuffed from the inside with some basic ingredients in some limited areas of Morocco.
Nowadaws, Harcha comes in individual portions and can its dough can be mixed with olives, khlii’ (Moroccan preserved meat) and also cheese, which is the version I’ll be posting today.
Harcha for snacking
Harcha can be eaten any time of the day, it can replace bread: You either eat it as is, or you open it from the middle to make a sandwich, or you can just place things on top and bite into it (again, it’s all explained here).
But for today’s harcha, cheese comes already inside. Once one bites into it, that white layer reveals itself as a nice surprise.
Harcha should be eaten at room temperature or slightly warm. It’s not a freezer-friendly recipe and it’s best consumed within the next 6 hours.
It’s important to choose the right caliber of semolina. It’s not the fine durun flour, it’s not a couscous grain and it should not be the large grain either. It’s just like the one used for Basboussa or Revani(if you are familiar with these desserts).
|We use fine semolina flour to make harcha. It’s important that you
choose the right caliber shown here on the right
Serves 4 persons
Prep: 10 min – cooking: 20 min
Basic ingredients for harcha (see also here)
- 300 g de fine semolina
- 1 tsp of salt
- 30 ml of oil (vegetable or olive oil) or/and melted butter
- 90 ml of lukewarm water (or a 50%-50% water and milk)
- 1/2 tsp of baking powder
- 100g of crumbled feta or soft white cheese (jben is a favorite in Morocco)
- 1 tbsp of dried herbs (thyme, oregano)
- 20-30 g of fine or medium semolina
- Black or green olives, pitted and chopped
“Bessess” the semolina: feed it with fat
Mix dry ingredients with the fat you are planning to use (oil, melted butter..). Work these ingredients with your fingers making sure all grains have been properly coated. This should take about 1 min.
At this stage, you can cover it and leave it for a few minutes to 1 hour. If you are in a hurry, carry on with the next step.
|Dry ingredients worked with olive oil to form a sandy mix.|
Shape the dough ball
Slowly incorporate the liquid (water, a mix of water-milk) to the mix bring the dough together. Some people leave it slightly sloppy. I don’t like it hard so It’s easy to shape it and I don’t like it sloppy either: too hard and you will have cracks, too sloppy and it will be somewhat rubbery.
Try to come up with a ball by sending the dough from one hand to the other. This will form a ball without developping gluten or breaking the texture of the semolina grain. This should take about 1 min.
In the meantime, heat a heavy bottom non-stick pan or skillet over medium heat.
Shaping and cooking harcha
For small harchas using a round cutter or a glass: sprinkle the worktop with fine or medium semolina and roll/flatten the dough anywhere between 5 mm to 7 cm (I prefer it thin). Place the cheese on top and cover with another port of the dough which you need to flatten with your hand to cover the cheese.
Because we are dealing with small portions in this recipe, I flatten the dough, I place the cheese in half of it and I cover it with the other half. Then I cut my mini-harchas
The filling should not poke from the bottom or top (it’s okay if it shows from the sides), it should be totally covered otherwise it will stick to the pan.
Roll the bits of dough left and shape another mini-harcha which might have bits of cheese everywhere, just make sure you tuck them inside (no cheese pocking thing).
Sprinkle again from the top. Cut and place over the skillet..Cook each side about 10 min until you see brown patches.
|Shaping an olive-cheese stuffed mini-harcha|
It’s always important to handle the dough quickly and not to let it dry.
Serve warm or at room temperature, any time of the day!