Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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If you are ignorant of the power of fire,
avoid it —
don't come near it alone.
If you haven't learned
to cook or tend the flame,
the pot will surely be destroyed
and the soup will boil dry.
Water and skill are needed
for the soup to safely simmer to perfection.
Vegetarian Harira
Dry beans
Sponge preparation: 5 minutes
Fermentation: Overnight
Total second-day time: 2 hours
½ cup all-purpose flour
1-¼ cups warm water
½ tsp. yeast
2 cups chick-peas
½ cup butter or vegetable oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. cinnamon
12 cups water
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. pepper
1 cup rice
4 lightly beaten eggs (optional)
¼ cup lemon juice

Mix together the flour, water and yeast in a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let ferment overnight. Put the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with cold water, and let soak overnight.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the onions and sauté until soft. Add the turmeric and cinnamon and continue to sauté for another minute. Drain the chickpeas, add them to the pot, and pour in 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, until the chickpeas are cooked. Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper, and rice, and simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

Blend one cup of hot stock into the flour-water mixture, then pour the mixture into the pot, stirring constantly. Simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasonings and add more water if needed.

Just before serving, whisk together the eggs (if desired), lemon juice, and one cup of the soup; then pour this mixture into the pot, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and let the soup rest for 5 minutes before serving.