Morocccan corn galette served with black olives

Moroccan corn and semolina harcha galette with cheese stuffing

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Cornmeal or polenta grits takes a common Harcha galette to a whole new level of flavour and texture. In some parts of Morocco, cornmeal is a big thing as it’s used to make couscous, bread, galettes and sweets.

Making a 100% cornmeal harcha would be a difficult thing to achieve since the mix will constantly crumble, leaving you nowhere near a perfectly shaped harcha. Mixing the cornmeal with regular coarse semolina will get you there.

I usually go for 30% polenta and 70% regular coarse semolina. It’s my safe ratio.

I like to stuff this particular harcha with a homemade jben (substitute with cream cheese) which I like to flavor with thyme or oregano.

 

Ingredients
Serves 2
Prep: 7 min – Cooking: 15 – 20min

  • 75 g of coarse semolina + extra for the sprinkling
  • 45 g of polenta/cornmeal grits
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 10 ml of olive oil
  • 70 ml of water
For the filling
  • 4 tbsps of jben./cream cheese
  • A good pinch of thyme/oregano
  • A good pinch of ground black pepper
Preparation
Mix dry ingredients with the oil. Work these ingredients with your fingers making sure all grains have been properly coated. This should take about 15 seconds.
Slowly incorporate the water to the mix and bring the dough together. It does not need any extra work. The mix will absorb the liquid quite fast.

Halve the dough, flatten the first part no more than 3 mm. Delicately spread the cheese without getting to the edges.

Slightly oil a thick non-stick skillet with oil, lightly sprinkle with semolina.

Sprinkle a work surface with semolina. I find it easy to shape my harcha over aluminum foil or directly in the pan before placing it over the cooker.

Flatten the rest of the dough between your palms and place it on top of the cheese very much in the middle. Try as much as you can to spread it all the way through and cover the cheese.

Flatten the harcha and use your fingers around the edges to shape a perfect circle. Basically, this harcha should be 4-5 cm thick but no more. Ideally, cheese should be trapped inside and nothing peeks out.

You could also use a round cutter and make individual mini-harchas.

 

Place the pan over medium heat in the first 2 minutes then bring it down to low heat (I use 3/4 over 12 in my electric cooker).

Cook each side for 7 minutes. Flip over using the back of a plate to cook the other side.

Serve warm or at room temperature during the same day.

For a variation with spring onion (a regional specialty), just chop in 1 spring onion and mix it with the dough.

For more harcha recipes (baked or cooked in a skillet), check these posts:

 

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Family-size Moroccan harcha galette in squares

Mega Harcha galette

Harcha is a semolina galette, head to these previous posts (Search for “HARCHA”) to know more about it. If have liked my facebook page then I’m sure you would have seen more pictures and more versions of Harcha.

So I spent the last summer in Morocco where size does matter in our big family. We need a massive Harcha in the centre of the table for breakfast and potentially another one for snacking around 5 pm (the days are long during summer)..

Obviously Harcha, being a sort of bread in a way that you are meant to eat it along with something else (sweet or savoury).

Traditionally, harcha is cooked/pan-fried on a stove-top using a “maq’la ouejdiya”, a sort of heavy enamel pan from Ouejda (an Eastern city of Morocco). It’s standard size (in diameter) is somewhere around 35 cm.

The traditional meq’la ouejdia, The darker (the older), the better.

In Morocco, the pans for harcha are not as good and heavy as before but thankfully, my sister and my mother have both their old pans.

The mega harcha needs one of these but a heavy griddle or cast iron skillet will do.

Whatever the option, you will need to grease the pan and sprinkle some semolina on it before using it.

Harcha with olives and herbs

Now remember this, the best harcha is the one that combines fine and medium-size semolina (not couscous, not the fine semolina flour).

The best harcha as far as I’m concerned is the one originally from Hyayna, a village next to Fes.

Today’s harcha is richer in term of texture but also because of the ingredients used to make it. Compared with the previous recipe I’ve posted, today’s harcha has milk and butter (if you have read this post, I have briefly mentioned this option). In 2010, I have posted this recipe but it was in French and very limited to the recipe itself. Today’s post will be in English and will contain more details on how to get a great mega harcha.

Ingredients
For a 35 cm/diameter heavy pan and 1 to 1.5 cm thickness (Serves 12)
Prep: 5 min – Resting time: 15 min to a few hours- Cooking: 15-20 min

For the harcha dough

  • 450g of fine semolina
  • 250g of coarse/medium semolina (or half/half)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 8 cl mix of melted butter and oil
  • 40 cl approx mix of water and milk, lukewarm
  • 5 g of baking powder
  • 3 g of dried instant yeast ( optional), mixed with 3 tbsps of lukewarm water
  • Thyme (optional), nigella seeds

For the pan

  • About 1 heaped tbsp of coarse semolina
  • 1 tsp of oil to grease the pan

 

Preparation

“Bessess” the semolina: feed it with fat

Mix the semolinas with salt and fat. Work these ingredients with your fingers making sure all grains have been properly coated and it looks all sandy. 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, move to the next step.


Sandy mix.

Make the dough

Add the baking powder and pass the sandy mixture between the palms of your hands to make sure it’s fully incorporated. You may add the herbs and grains at this stage.


Slowly incorporate the liquid (and yeast if using it) to the mix to bring the dough together. Some people leave it slightly sloppy which is fine but it shouldn’t be hard. 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. 


You just need to combine the ingredients. DO NOT OVERWORK IT. This should take about 30 s at MAX.


In the meantime, grease the pan and sprinkle the semolina all around. Do not forget to cover the edges as well.


Shaping and cooking harcha


Lightly oil the heavy-bottomed pan and sprinkle with semolina, including the edges.

 


Flatten the dough anywhere between 8 mm to 1.5 cm (I prefer it thin). Sprinkle again from the top. Prick it a few times. Place the skillet over medium heat.Cook each side about 7 min until you see brown patches. We tend to move the pan skillet around to make sure the heat cooked it from all corners. 

My auntie at work, flattening the harcha

To get an even top after flattening the dough, use the back of a humid spoon and try to level the top side.

Levelling the top side


When the first side is cooking, we see the colour of the top side changing as well, this is usually a sign that you should flip it. Use a flat plate or equivalent to do so in order to keep harcha in one piece.

Be careful while flipping it, as the pan might burn your arms.

Cook the other side for another 7 min or so.

Harcha cooked through and with the thickness I prefer

Serve warm or at room temperature.

If harcha is savoury then serve as is or with boiled eggs, cheese, butter, olives, pickles, cold cuts..

If harcha is plain then butter and honey will make a wonderful topping especially when the slices are still warm.

Harcha with loads of spring onions and fresh thyme which I served with harissa

Harcha should be eaten within 6 to 8 hours of the day it’s been made.

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Small Moroccan semolina galettes stuffed with cheese

Moroccan stuffed harchas with cheese and other things

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If you are a follower of this blog you must be familiar with harcha, a flat Moroccan galettes made of semolina (not couscous).

 

Small Moroccan semolina galettes stuffed with cheese

Small Moroccan semolina galettes stuffed with cheese Credit @Nada Kiffa

I have introduced what harcha is all about here.

Make sure you make these. They’re good anytime of the day. I love them for breakfast.
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Harissa and cheese Moroccan galette served with cheese, harissa and olives

My cheesy baked harcha

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I’m a harcha-addict.  So here is a version of the many Moroccan semolina galettes I like making.

I made this version up, so althought it’s not part of the Moroccan cooking repertoire, it has Moroccan ingredients all the way through.

Harcha recipes on the blog

I have started a serie of posts about Harcha (look up for Harcha on the blog). I love harcha but I love the savoury versions more. So I worked out some variations to the sweet baked version (which isn’t that sweet but it’s still sweet).

You can adapt it to your liking and I’ll suggest some ideas in the end

Ingredients
For a 25 cm pan/tin (It can be round or square or any shape you have)
Prep: 5 min- baking: 30 min

  • 500g of fine semolina flour
  • 1 tsp of fine sugar (optional)
  • 80 ml of olive oil or a mix of oil/melted butter
  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 14 g of baking powder
  • 1/2 liter of milk or 50% milk-50% buttermilk
  • 1or 2 tbsbs of fresh or dried herbs (Thyme, basil, oregano…)
  • 40 g of crumbly white cheese: feta will do
  • 3 tbsps of chopped sundried tomatoes in oil (I used their oil this time)
  • Chopped olives or cornichons or capers, chopped spring onions


Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees C. Cover the baking pan with baking paper or just butter it and generously sprinkle fine (not the flour type) or medium semolina (not the couscous type).

For Harchas, we usually use the fine semolina grains (on the right). In Morocco, It’s common to use fine semolina flour (on the left) for other bakes and sometimes Non-Moroccans confuse these two.

Mix the semolina with the salt, sugar, herbs and oil. Work the ingredients with your finger to make sure every single grain of semolina is coated with the fat.

Add the milk and stir to combine.

Add the rest of the ingredients. Do not forget to roughly crumble the hard white cheese

Pour the mix in the pan.

Bake at 180 degrees C for approx 30 min until both sides are nicely golden brown.

Once cooked, transfer onto a wire rack and let’s cool down.

Serve at room temperature just as it is or with cheese, pickles, olives. I even serve mine with a mild harissa.

You can also use it to make a sandwich or cut it with cookie cutters, then cut it through and serve it as a base for canapés.


Notes

  • I like to add herbs and spices to the mix. Olives are also great in there. chopped cooked bacon or cold cuts..
  • You could add 1 egg to the mix like I did today but honestly it’s not really needed.
  • I also replace 1/3 of the semolina with polenta.
  • For a marbled effect, you could take the 3rd of the mix and mix it with sundried tomato paste or mild harissa then marble the white mix with it.
  • The cake can be 2 to 4 cm thick depending on your pan but then you need to adjust the baking time.
  • If you choose to make a thick cake, you could cut it through, fluffen up some tarama cream along with whipping cream and generously fill in the center.
  • If you choose to use the syrup, you could also make a harcha cake tray and cut it into individual portions which you can top with whipped cream and fruits. It’s like having a sort of Baba.
  • For a gluten-free version, use polenta.