International Recipes and Cooking Around the World


Harira (North African lamb and chickpea stew)

(North African lamb and chickpea stew)

Image by Rui Ornelas

Average: 3.9 (38 votes)

Harira is a soup from the Maghreb region of North Africa that is especially popular as an iftar meal to break the daily fast during Ramadan. There are innumerable variations of this hearty, healthy soup, but most recipes are for chunks of lamb slow simmered with tomatoes, chickpeas, spices and herbs.

6 to 8 servings


  • Olive oil or butter -- 1/4 cup
  • Lamb, cubed for stews -- 1 pound
  • Onion, chopped -- 1 large
  • Celery, chopped -- 2 stalks
  • Turmeric -- 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon -- 1 teaspoon
  • Ground ginger -- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Nutmeg -- 1/4 teaspoon
  • Saffron -- big pinch
  • Tomatoes, chopped -- 2 cups
  • Water or stock -- 2 quarts
  • Chickpeas, cooked and drained -- 2 cups
  • Lentils -- 1/2 cup
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 cup
  • Parsley, chopped -- 1/2 cup
  • Lemons, cut into wedges -- 2


  1. Heat the oil or butter in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the lamb and brown on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add the onions and celery. Saute until the onions are translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the spices and saute for another 1 or 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Finally pour in the stock and return the meat to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 45 minutes.
  4. Add the chickpeas, lentils, salt and pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the lentils cooked through and tender.
  5. Adjust seasoning, stir in the cilantro and parsley and serve with lemon wedges for each diner to squeeze into their stew as desired.

Harira Variations

  • Tedouira as a Thickener: Harira is traditionally thickened with a type of sourdough starter called a tedouira. Water, flour, tomato paste and herbs are mixed together and sometimes left to ferment overnight. This mixture is then stirred into simmering soups and stews to give them a velvety consistency. To make your own tedouira, whisk 1/2 cup flour, 3/4 cup water and 1/4 cup of tomato paste together until smooth. Whisk into the simmering stew after the lentils have simmered for about 15 minutes and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes to thicken the harira.
  • Meats: Substitute cubed chicken or beef for the lamb. Or eliminate the meat altogether for a delicious vegetarian version.
  • Sometimes 2 or 3 beaten eggs are stirred into the stew at the end to make ribbons of egg in the broth.
  • Add 1 cup soup pasta toward the end. Or add 1 cup of rice along with the lentils. You may need to add a little more water.
  • Moroccans remove the skins from the chickpeas before adding them to the stew. You are forgiven if you forgo this step.


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