Some words are just funny to say. Like onomatopoeia (the use of words whose sounds suggest the sense), booby (a seabird or an awkward person) or bunghole (a hole for emptying or filling a cask).
Harira recently joined that list for me. It’s the name of a Moroccan spicy bean soup I cooked up the other day. Turns out it’s also quite tasty and quick to make.
In my ongoing effort, albeit often a failed one, to try to pinch my pennies by eating at home instead of dining out, I came across this recipe in “One World Vegetarian Cookbook” by Troth Wells (another funny name).
We concocted our own variation of harira to suit our tastes. For instance, instead of one can of chickpeas and one can of borlotti beans, we used two cans of garbanzos. And instead of one-fourth of a green chili, de-seeded and chopped, I went ahead and threw in an entire serrano pepper. The spicier the better for me.
The rest of the dish consists of a chopped onion, a can of tomatoes, a little cinnamon, some fresh cilantro and parsley, the juice of a lemon, a couple quarts of stock, some rice and a roux.
When the ingredients start combining and the soup comes to a simmer, the entire house smells like the best scented Christmas candle you’ve ever laid your nostrils on.
The only ingredient I was unable to come by also happens to be an all-time favorite: saffron. I fell in love with these threads of deliciousness the first time my host mom cooked us paella at our piso in Valencia.
Being supremely satisfied with the harira, we made sans saffron, I can only imagine what this soup could be like with the extra spice.
Time will tell. I’m going to try to come across some saffron on the black market, where hopefully it doesn’t cost the small fortune I’ve seen it sell for in some stores here. I’m not sure how I plan to do this, but maybe there’s a Google map feature for black markets in a neighborhood near you.
With our batch of harira nearly polished off, I’ve already found the next funny-sounding soup I want to make: Tom ka-gai.
This Thai soup supposedly has a similarly wonderful fragrance to it and can and will be made as hot as we can handle with a planned substitution of one red chili with one orange habanero (Insert sinister smiling emoticon here).
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for more dishes that are as delicious to eat as they are hilarious to say aloud.