Hooray for Harira!


Harira: browning the meat and bones
Oh, happy day! Oh, happy tastebuds! Yesterday's soup was one of those soups that I have no qualms about adding to my "make it again" list. Using Sophie Grigson's recipe for this Berber speciality, I made a soup that  all four of us enjoyed: the spouse, the younger offspring, Juno (my mother-in-law) and I. Yes, that's right: even the younger offspring was unstinting in his praise. All it took was an onion, a shoulder of lamb, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, parsley, coriander, brown lentils, tomatoes, vermicelli, chickpeas, flour and lemons. And my smaller dekshee.  I chopped what needed to be chopped then set to cooking. First I fried the onions until translucent, after which I added in the ground spices, the chopped herbs, the meat and the bones.

Next in were the brown lentils, chopped tomatoes (tinned) and sundried tomato paste. When these were well mixed I poured in water and left the lot to simmer.
Harira: the meat simmers with the tomatoes and lentils
After forty-five minutes I removed the bones and tipped in the chickpeas and vermicelli. I then had to make a sort of roux with a ladleful of the cooking liquid and flour. I stirred this roux back into the soup. Then it was time to eat. The aromas of the meat and spices were delicious and, as already intimated, the soup did not disappoint. I need say no more.

What She Said

What She Said is the translated title given to a classic Tamil love poem by Okkur Macatti (excuse the absence of diacritical marks). I came across it in my copy of The Penguin Book of Women Poets given to me thirty years ago by the spouse when he was still the boyfriend. Here are a few lines:

The jasmine creeper is showing its buds
through their delicate calyx
like the laugh of a wildcat.
In jasmine country, it is evening
for the hovering bees,
but look, he hasn't come back. 
It's been a long day after an early start, so I'll finish now.



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