The month of Ramadan is upon us. The fast begins at sunrise and ends at sunset each day. It is broken with a little salt and then a small plate is usually served comprising some type of cooked chickpeas, a bit of chopped fresh ginger, usually an Indian delicacy and a date.This is known as Iftar, and is usually consumed after the Maghrib prayer. Iftar is followed by a balanced meal and a sweet, usually some type of ice-cream or dessert.
Interestingly, the foods with which the fast is broken in eastern countries may vary, but there are usually always chickpeas and dates.In Morocco and Algeria, Muslims consume harira, a tomato broth with a chickpea and lentil base scented with cinnamon, turmeric and fresh cilantro/chadon beni, accented with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the table. Fresh rounds of crusty bread, hard-boiled eggs, dates, and honeyed pastries are served with each bowl.
If you are fasting, try to start your day with a nourishing meal, like a warm bowl of lentil soup. Remember that beans and legumes provide much needed carbs and proteins as well. Balance that dish with a slice of wholegrain bread and a small piece of fruit.Remember the month is tough on your body, and it is a physically cleansing fast as well. So try to be conscious of what you eat this month and treat your body to fresh wholesome foods.
Harira–Moroccan chickpea soup
11/2 cups dried channa/chickpeas
8 cups water
1 28 oz tin of tomatoes with juice
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs olive oil
1/3 cup chopped celery, rib, and leaves
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin/ geera powder
1/2 cup chopped chadon beni
4 cups broth, chicken or vegetable
1 cup lentils
3/4 cup fine egg noodles or thin spaghetti or vermicelli
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Lemon wedges for the table.
Salt to taste
Soak channa in water overnight drain and rinse, cook in eight cups of water for about one to 1 1/2 hours until tender.
Drain chickpeas and save the water it was cooked in.
You should have 21/2 cups water; if not, add a little water. Finely chop tomatoes.
Heat oil in a large soup pot, add onion and celery until softened and fragrant.
Add tumeric, pepper, cumin and cinnamon and cook for a few minutes more.
Stir in tomatoes, 1/4 cup chadon beni, channa with the reserved liquid, broth and lentils.
Simmer until lentils are tender, between 40 and 60 minutes.
Break pasta into one-inch pieces, and stir into soup.
Cook for a further ten minutes until pasta is tender.
Season with salt and sprinkle with remaining herbs.
Serve with wedges of lemon and crusty bread.
Serves six as a main course