Hergma is a traditional Moroccan dish made with calves feet or lamb feet, a cut of meat referred to as kour3ine in Moroccan Arabic. It includes the hoof and lowermost portion of the leg. Goat feet may also be used.
The feet and lower leg have relatively little meat but the tendons, fat and connective tissue around the joints are flavorful thickeners for the sauce. The cooking time is for a pressure cooker. Conventional simmering requires all-day or overnight cooking.
More wheat can be substituted for the chickpeas or vice-versa. A cheesecloth is recommended for wrapping the wheat. Soak chickpeas overnight.
Also try Tangia with Calves or Lamb Feet.
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours, 5 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.
- 2 calves feet, cut into pieces (or 8 lamb feet)
- 2 onions, chopped
- 1 onion, sliced
- 6 to 8 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 3 teaspoons ginger
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon smen, or to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup (125 g) dried chick peas, soaked overnight
- 1 1/2 cups wheat kernels (wheat berries)
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
Set the raisins and wheat kernels to soak in separate bowls of cold water.
Wash and clean the feet carefully. The hooves can be discarded. In Morocco, the feet will have been charred over coals to remove the fur, but some burnt remnants may need to be scraped off. Also remove any loose bone fragments. Wash the feet a final time by immersing them in water.
Put the feet in a deep pressure cooker or heavy-bottomed pot along with the onions, garlic, spices, smen and oil. Add enough water to come almost to the tops of the meat, cover, and bring to a simmer.
Cook the meat for 1 1/2 hours with medium pressure (or 3 hours if simmering in a conventional pot). Stir and taste for salt, adding more if desired.
Drain the chick peas and add them directly to the pot. Drain the wheat kernels, wrap and tie them in a piece of cheesecloth, and add them to the pot as well. (Note: If you don't have cheesecloth, the wheat can be added directly to the pot. The advantage of the cheesecloth is that it allows you to create a nicer presentation at serving time.)
Cover and continue cooking with medium-low pressure for another 2 1/2 hours (or simmer in a conventional pot for 5 hours – occasionally check on the level of the liquids), until the wheat is tender.
Drain the raisins and add them to the pot. Cover and continue cooking without pressure to reduce the liquids to a thick sauce.
To serve, place the meat in the center of a large platter and add the sauce, chickpeas and raisins all around. Untie the cheesecloth and arrange the wheat on top of the meat. Serve the dish with Moroccan bread for scooping everything up.
The dish can be made in advance. It will keep for several days in the fridge or several months in the freezer.