Moroccan harira breaks a Ramadan fast

Moroccans often accompany harira with wedges of lemon and dried dates. (Bill St. John, Special to The Denver Post)

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a period of significant religious observance by the globe’s Muslims, begins this year the evening of Thursday, April 23. During Ramadan’s 30 days, among other practices, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and break their fast with the “iftar,” or evening meal.

On a trip to Morocco in January, I learned that the most common food with which to break the fast is harira, a thick, substantial soup that may be either vegetarian or meat-based, but that always includes hefty portions of legumes and pulses such as lentils or beans, or both.

Harira is assembled during Ramadan daytimes, in order to be ready for the evening meal. Obviously, it is always eagerly anticipated.

Over time, harira became so popular in Morocco that it is now eaten throughout the year and, interestingly, as what we Westerners call breakfast, as a morning potage served with flat semi-sweet crepe-like breads, or dates or figs, or peeled hard-cooked eggs sprinkled with pepper and ground cumin.