Global Ramadan recipes: Sharba Libya

Home & Away Tuesday 07/June/2016 07:46 AM
By: Times News Service
Global Ramadan recipes: Sharba Libya

This lamb, tomato, and pasta soup is considered by many to be the national dish of Libya. Each bowl represents the complex culture, from the Italian influence as seen through the addition of pasta, to the homey, sweet and savoury flavours of North African cooking. For most Libyans, it is an essential start to their daily Iftar meal throughout the Holy Month, and many love to eat it with another of their specialties, mbattan, fried potatoes stuffed with mince-meat.

1/4 cup olive oil
200g lamb meat, chopped into small cubes
1 onion, chopped
Whole spices (optional): 1 cinnamon stick, 5 crushed cardamom pods, a few shaiba leaves (also known as dagad phool), 3 bay leaves
1 heaped teaspoon each of: turmeric, black pepper, red paprika, baharat
1 level tablespoon salt
1/2 cup chickpeas, canned or soaked overnight then
cooked (optional)
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 litres boiling water, divided
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
1/2 cup lisan asfour (orzo or other soup pasta)
1 tablespoon dried mint
Lemon and flatbread, to serve (optional)


Pour the oil in a pot, add the chopped lamb and chopped onion. Drop in any whole spices you are using, stir on medium heat for a few minutes until the oil is infused.
Add ground spices, chickpeas, chopped tomato, and tomato paste and cook for few minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Add 1/2 a litre of water and 2 tablespoons of parsley, then cover and cook on low heat for 45 minutes. Once the lamb is cooked, remove the whole spices. Add a litre of boiling water, then add the rest of the parsley, and orzo; cook for another 15 minutes.

After turning off the heat rub a handful of dried mint between the palms of your hands straight into the pot, then give the soup a final stir.

Serve the soup with lemon wedges, tanoor bread, and, for a traditional meal, fried potato and mince meat snacks called, mbattan.