Similar to some European countries, Moroccans take a break mid-way through the day, usually from 2-3 pm. However, after an afternoon siesta, a person is likely to be hungry…that’s when Moroccans, young and old, hit the street to enjoy one of Morocco’s most popular street foods: harcha. After 3 (sometimes you have to wait until 4) the food carts start cranking out fresh, warm harcha for 2 dirham (20 cents) plain and 3 with a topping. Or if you’re an early riser (or have an 8 am class) you can also get warm harcha. This thin, flat, round snack made of finely ground semolina, resembles a pancake in shape, but is more dense and dry.
Street carts offer harcha in two sizes: a small disc-like shape or a wedge cut out of a large circular disc. Usually, people order harcha “avec fromage (cheese)” or “avec miel (honey).” However, if you are feeling adventurous, you order it with “jibn,” a handmade cheese (kind of like cream cheese but with more of a tang). While it’s a bit more expenseve (50 cents), it is definitely worth it. After selecting your size and filling preference, the harcha is sliced laterally and spread with the filling.
If you catch the a stand at the right time, you can get a piece of harcha right off the stovetop, in which case the filling melts into the harcha. Harcha is somewhat dry, although not too dry that it crumbles. It is also slightly sweet and can be enjoyed for breakfast, a snack, or a nice accompaniment to tea. When I make it myself at the apartment, I try different variations of toppings from peanut butter and jelly to goat cheese and honey; it really is a versatile snack. (My roommate even put poached eggs on top of her harcha for dinner).
While semolina is the major ingredient, the other ingredients vary depending on personal preferences. Also, when it comes to recipes in Morocco, the concept of measuring is not really prevalent. The recipe below is based on an Arabic/French YouTube video I found online; I tweaked the recipe a little to my taste but still had to measure using a teacup like in the video (so good luck estimating!).
Ingredients for semolina harcha:
3 teacups finely ground semolina
coarse semolina for rolling
1.5 T sugar
1 T honey
1 packet baking powder
1 packet vanilla sugar (best guess would be to combine 1-2 t sugar and vanilla extract)
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
pinch of salt
1.5 teacups milk
Measure semolina into a bowl. Melt butter and oil together.Use your hands to mix butter/oil into semolina. Rub between your fingers to coat granules. Add honey and mix. Mix in sugar, baking powder, vanilla packet, and salt. Add milk and stir until combined. The mixture should be thick, but wet. Pour course semolina into a shallow bowl. Separate mixture into 7-8 medium-sized balls or more small balls. The balls will be wet and somewhat difficult to work with. Roll a ball in semolina then put it onto a lightly greased, medium heat pan (a crepe pan or a pan with low sides would work well). Press down on the ball (after it is in the pan) to form a disc shape. Cook 3-4 minutes per side. Enjoy!
Note: Below is the YouTube video in French and Arabic. Even if you can’t understand it, watching the process will be helpful. I did tweak the recipe, so my instructions are slightly different.