Moroccan barley galettes served with extra virgin olive oil and different types of Moroccan honeys

Moroccan barley galettes: Harcha d’ chaiir


If making bread gives you headache, this healthy version is the right thing for you!

Barley bread or flat galette is a common thing across Morocco. Barley happens to be one of the healthiest option one has when diabetes is lurking around. With a little slice, you get a feel of satiety as opposed to whole wheat or white flour!


Moroccan barley galettes served with extra virgin olive oil and different types of Moroccan honeys

Moroccan barley galettes with the usual spread. Credit @Nada Kiffa

I made barley bread during all my pregnancy because I suffered from gestational diabetes and I was able to manage my sugar blood levels most of the time while still enjoying bread.

Mehrach or Barley bread in Moroccan street food

When I was little, I recall my father bringing barley bread for breakfast and heat a mixture of honey and olive oil, then dip a slice until it’s fully soaked and almost caramelized. It was such a treat along with a good glass of hot mint tea!

Unfortunately, most of the barley bread found sold in different stalls across Morocco seems to be mixed with regular white flour. The real deal is still there but only a few offer both options..

Barley bread or harcha are easy to make because you just need to mix and let proof, shape and let proof then bake. No kneading required. Harcha won’t need a second proofing and gets instantly pan-fried so it’s even less headache!

Barley has low GI

Since barley won’t develop a gluten network after kneading, so there is no need to do so. The only thing is that you will have to deal with a sticky dough and get your hands dirty as you will be dealing with a 80% hydration dough . No need to worry because you can use a food processor to mix and grease your hands with olive oil or water while shaping.

While the bread is freezer-friendly, the harcha galette is not and it needs to be eaten the same day or you won’t be enjoying it that much..The galette is thinner than the bread, so it might have something to do with it. I tend to freeze some, get them through microwave for a few seconds, split them and off to the panini maker or toaster.

Handling barley flour and grits

Initially, barley bread is prepared with 100% barley grits which should be given time to soak in water in order to plump up. But you can use 50%-50% grits to flour as indicated in the recipe below. Using the flour only will save you time while using grits only will give you a dense bread. Mixing them both will give you a good texture.
I do tend to add oat bran or wheat bran to replace one or the other and make other healthy versions of barley bread or harcha. They really come out great!
Another classic combo for a Moroccan breakfast: barley bread, olive
oil and jben cheese

Makes 12+ mini rolls or 15 mini-harcha galettes
Prep 10 min- proofing: 2-4hrs – baking: 20 min

  • 300g small barley grits/semolina/tchicha
  • 200g barley flour
  • 20 g for fresh yeast or 10 g of instant dried yeast(you could replace with a ratio of sourdough)
  • Enough water to cover the barley grits (see recipe to understand the logic of work)
  • 1 tbps of salt
  • 2 tbsp of cumin seeds (not needed for harcha)
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil

Finishing and shaping

  • 200 g of barley grits for rolling
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil or a small bowl of water
Pre-wash the barley grits/semolina 3 or 4 times and then add enough water to cover it (just about). The semolina will absorb most of it. Set aside for 4 hours or overnight.
Mix the yeast with 1/8 cup of lukewarm water to activate it. Set aside for 10 min.
Tilt the bowl to get rid of excess water. Add the salt, flour, yeast and stir to combine. Drizzle the olive around the dough from the sides of the bowl and try to flip it (the dough) upside down).
The dough should be tacky and sticky. Cover and leave for 2 to 4 hours depending on the weather. It won’t rise but it will become a bit spongy.
To make barley bread rolls
Cover a baking sheet with baing paper (or oil and generously sprinkle it with barley grits).
Spread a thick layer of barley grits on a small working surface, grease your hands with olive oil and try to roll the dough the size of a golf ball. It does not have to be perfect. Once you place the ball over barley grits and roll it, it will be easier to get a rather regular shape.
Place each ball on the baking sheet, leaving some space between them. Slightly flatten it anywhere between 1 and 1.5 cm. It will slightly rise during baking but it will be hardly unnoticeable.
Cover the baking sheet with a damp tower and set aside in a warm place for about 45 to 60 min.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200-220 degrees C (fan/regular) for about 20 min.
To make barley harchas
Grease a heavy griddle/skillet/heavy pan with a tiny bit of oil, Sprinkle barley grits and place it over medium heat.
Follow the same guidelines above except that you won’t let the harcha proof a second time and you will need to flatten it to a maximum of 1 cm thickness.
Place each flattened ball on the griddle/skillet/pan and cook each side until coloured (it’s good to have some dark patches). It should take about 10 min for the first side and about 7 to 8 min for the second one.
Some harcha-smiley faces’ with olives for the children
(using a smiley’ pancake pan)

Eat harchas the same day while you can keep extra barley bread in the freezer. Toast it or oven-heat it later on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s