Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
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"What did you have for breakfast,"
"Neither wine nor roast meat, nor qadid nor tharid nor lentils."
"What did you eat, answer that, and no more!
Why all this useless chatter?"
"Because until you deny all else,
the affirmation of God will elude you.
I denied everything
that you might catch the fragrance of affirmation.
I play the tune of negation;
when you die, death will unravel this mystery."
Lamb & Chickpea Stew
The Prophet Muhammad liked tharid so much that he compared it to his beloved wife Aisha. This recipe is adapted from a 13th century Andalusian cookbook.
Soaking: Overnight
Total second-day time: 2 hours
3 cups chickpeas
3 lbs. lamb, cut into bite-sized cubes
8 cups water
6 cups finely chopped onion
2 tsp. ground coriander
½ cup finely chopped fresh coriander
2 tsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp. pepper
6 eggs
1 tbsp. salt
½ tsp. saffron in 2 tbsp. water
½ cup honey
Enough stale bread for 2 cups of crumbs
6 rounds pita bread, quartered

Put the chickpeas into a large bowl, cover them with cold water and let soak overnight. The next day, drain the chickpeas and set them aside.

Put the lamb into a large stew pot and cover it with cold water. Bring to a boil and skim off the foam that rises to the top. Add the chickpeas, onion, ground and fresh coriander, caraway seeds and pepper; return to a boil, then reduce the heat. Break the eggs directly into the pot so that they will poach along with the stew. Let the stew cook for an hour to an hour and a half, until the chickpeas are done and the lamb is tender. Add salt and saffron, then remove ½ cup of broth from the pot, mix it together with the honey, and pour it back into the pot. Return to a boil and boil vigorously for 3 minutes.

Put the pita wedges in the bottom of the serving bowl and pour the tharid over them; or serve the pita wedges alongside the tharid and so that guests may put a few in the bottom of an individual soup bowl, then spoon the stew over the bread.