Friday 28 March 2008

sharba libiya

In Autumn and Winter I love to eat hybrids between soups, stews and pasta dishes.

This particular recipe, Sharba Libiya, is common all over the internet and translates simply to “Libyan Soup”.

The main flavour basis is the Libyan five spice Hararat. Despite my searches all over the place I couldn’t find a reliable source so I had to invent my own version. I used cinnamon, cumin, coriander, chilli and allspice. Who knows whether my ingredients and measurements come close to the real thing!

The recipe calls for orzo or risoni, but you could go for any small shapes that suit you.

It’s a really hearty, flavoursome meal that I highly recommend, especially when the weather is cool.

Sharba Libiya (Libyan Soup
Anna’s very own version of a popular internet recipe. Serves 4 as entrée or 2 as main.Ingredients:
300g lamb mince
1 litre beef stock
1 medium onion
½ cup tomato sauce (passata)
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup orzo (or risoni)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1 batch Hararat
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh coriander, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Olive oil, for cooking
Pinch of salt
1. Sauté the onion and garlic in oil.
2. Add meat and cooked until browned.
3. Add spices, dried mint leaves, salt and chopped tomatoes and stir.
4. When tomatoes have started to break down a little, add tomato
tomato sauce and beef stock. Add a little water if there’s not enough liquid.
5. Bring to the boil then add orzo and simmer until cooked.
6. Before serving, squeeze over fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with fresh coriander and parsley.
Note: chicken or beef can be used instead of lamb and potatoes, chickpeas and lentils may be included also.

Anna's very own recipe.
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Dry fry in a sauce pan and combine.

This is my contribution to Presto Pasta Night, hosted by Ruth from Once Upon A Feast.



  1. Fabulous looking soup and I do love your homemade spice blend. I'll definitely be whipping up a batch.

    Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Night.

  2. Anna, you amaze I see before my eyes the very first Libyan dish and it sounds delish.

  3. I have served Sharba Libiya to just about every (non-vegetarian)guest we have had in our house (I am Libyan). Everyone loves it. Instead of minced lamb, I really recommend that you use finely chopped pieces of lamb; shoulder is best. You can easily chop the meat using two two knives, one in each hand, crisscrossing them against each other.


  4. omar - thanks for the tip. i'll try it next time i make it!
    are you able to tell me what's in a traditional hararat?

  5. ...
    well i was born n' lived in Libya for about 19 years n' i must say their foods 're amazing ... n' this sharba is kinda blessin' from above when the days are dry ... i must thank you for workin' on it

  6. Hi Anna,

    I just cooked sharba to my husband.:) Try out my sharba recipe. Thats how I and all my family make it. We use lemon and dried mint at the end, it gives a very aromatic flavour. This is how we Libiyans make it.

    Fry onions and diced lamb meat together. After add about 2tbps of tomato puree, a pinch of turmeric powder, half tbsp of coriander powder, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 chilli (optional), some chickpeas, ground black pepper, salt to taste and plenty of water. Replace water when needed. Cook it untill meat is soft and soup is thick.

    When you have this add the pasta what you used on the photo and add dried mint. Before you eat it put some lemon juice to the top. If you want to make it really authentic Libiyan dont forget to use chickpeas,mint,lemon and avoid using cumin powder.

    Hope you will try it and enjoy it.:D

    Regards from Sultana.

  7. I'm Libyan and absolutly love Sharba Lebeeya! I have introduced it to many of my non-Libyan firends and now it's become a very popular dish in their homes!

    Sharba Lebeeya is the type of dish you fall in love with instantly!

  8. I worked in Libya for 8 years and enjoyed calling at a roadside cafe on my way to Bengazi where we had Libyan Sharba and a bottle of cold lemonade. I was delighted when I found this recipe, and also that I could get Riso pasta in my branch of my well known national supermarket.

    BTW, I use a lamb shank, and cook until the meat comes off the bone, then I add the pasta and cook for another 15 minutes. It frezzes very well.

    Les Clarke

  9. Made some today. Most will be frozen for future treats.

    I've also sent some Hararat to two friends in England. We worked together in Brega many years ago and they didn't know the 5 spice mix.


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