Harcha: Recipe for Traditional Moroccan Carb Heaven

In Moroccan cities, street vendors can be seen rolling little balls of yellow dough between their hands and pressing them onto hot grills. They flip them, stuff them with some combination of cream cheese, honey, amlou, and/or nutella, wrap them in paper, and hand them to waiting customers. These little pancakes are total carb heaven. Charred on the outside but soft and doughey on the inside; the mouthfeel is similar to cornbread. Harcha is the ultimate comfort food, and the best imaginable accompaniment to any evening stroll through the medina (but they’re also good in the morning. Or midday. Or late night…).

Harcha in Essaouira:

For some reason, I’ve had a hard time finding proper harcha. It’s not to be found everywhere, and often even when you do come across it, it’s being sold cold. To me, they’re only worth it when they’re made right there on the grill in front of you. Frustrated at not being able to get this whenever I wanted (i.e. all day, every day), I decided to try to make it myself.

You know, like, when you were a kid and you loved Chinese food, and you begged your mom to get it for you for dinner and she always said no but to make you shut up she said she would make “Chinese food” herself and it never tasted anything like Chinese food? I thought this was going to be like that. But it wasn’t.

They tasted exactly like the real thing that you buy on the street, and it was easy.

Warning: If you’re looking for healthy, definitely look elsewhere.

Here’s what I did:

I googled around and read a bunch of different recipes before deciding to use this one, with some modifications. My slightly adapted version is as follows.

Ingredients:

4 cups fine semolina (not semolina flour)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking powder
14 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup coarse semolina

Method:

In a bowl, combine the semolina, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Pour melted butter over the dry mixture. I use my hands to mix the butter in until a wet sand sort of consistency is reached.

Add milk and stir. Let the dough rest for 15-30 minutes, until the semolina has absorbed the milk and butter.

The dough will be rather wet, but don’t worry. It will be fine once it’s grilled.

Sprinkle coarse semolina on your work surface. Roll the dough into little spheres about the size of golf balls. Take each ball lightly roll in the rough semolina. (According to the above-linked website, harcha means “rough” in Arabic, referring to this layer of semolina on the outside).

Press onto a non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium heat and cook each harcha for 3-4 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn your hands!

Slice each harcha horizontally and stuff with cream cheese, honey, amlou, or nutella or whatever else your heart desires. Go to fucking town. Serve warm.

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