Moroccan Bessara / Assida

The Chefchaounais prepare Bessara which is a delicious salted mash of dried beans, crushed and seasoned with olive oil and cumin, salt, onion and sometimes spiced with hot pepper. It is a very rich and energetic dish for breakfast and lunch.

Adapted from Taste of Maroc


  • 1 lb. dried split peas (2 cups)
  • 4 cups broth – (chicken, beef or vegetable)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, – chopped
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, – chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt, – or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, – or to taste


In a large pot, cook the onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium-low heat for just a few minutes, or until fragrant and softened. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 50 to 60 minutes, until the peas are tender. Stir occasionally while cooking.
Use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to puree the soup. (If the soup is quite hot when you puree it, use caution.
Fill a blender or processor only one-third to halfway and use a towel to hold the lid firmly in place because pressure from steam can cause hot liquids to splash forcefully upward.) 
If desired, thin the puree to a soup-like consistency with additional broth or water. Taste and adjust seasoning. 
Serve warm, garnished as desired with olive oil, cumin and/or cayenne pepper. Thinner bessara is eaten with a spoon, but thicker versions are scooped up with pieces of Moroccan bread.