HarissaThursday, September 16, 2021
Considered the national dish of Armenia, harissa is a thick porridge made by slowly simmering korkot (dried or roasted cracked wheat) together with fatty pieces of lamb or chicken meat. Said to have been invented in the Ararat plains, the origins of the dish can be traced back to ancient times, as well as to Gregory the Illuminator, the patron saint of Armenia, who would offer it as a charity meal.
Even to this day, harissa is considered a charity meal, and is traditionally prepared each year for Easter, as well as to commemorate the Musa Ler resistance during the Armenian genocide of 1915. When it comes to the method of preparing, there are two diverging opinions; one claims it is forbidden to stir harissa until it is cooked all the way, while the other insists it should be stirred as soon as the wheat is half-cooked.
The finished meal is served in bowls, topped with butter, and paired with a side of pickled vegetables and lavash flatbread.
Armenian Harissa Dish Ingredients
- 600g pearl barley, soaked overnight
- 2kg whole chicken
- 2 tablespoon ground cumin, plus extra, to serve
- 160g butter, chopped
- 3 teaspoons berbere, spice blend
Armenian Harissa Dish Instructions
Step 1: Drain and rinse the pearl barley under cold running water.
Step 2: Put in a large saucepan, cover with 2 1/2 liters of water, and bring to boil.
Step 3: Reduce heat to medium and cook for 2 1/2 hours or until water is absorbed and barley is very soft. Do not stir too much because this may cause barley to stick to the saucepan.
Step 4: Place the chicken in a stockpot and cover with water halfway through the cooking of pearl barley. Bring to the boil, skim any impurities that come to the surface, then reduce to medium heat and cook for 1 hour or until the chicken is cooked through and starts to fall apart.
Step 5: Remove the chicken from the water and store 1 1/2 liters (11/2 qt) away. When chicken is cool enough to treat, finely shred the meat with your fingers and cut and discard the skin and bones.
Step 6: To the cooked pearl barley, add shredded chicken and 1 liter (1 qt) of reserved chicken stock. Place the pan over low heat and cook until thick, occasionally stirring, for 20 minutes.
Step 7: Mix with a handheld blender until fine porridge consistency; if appropriate, add more of the reserved 500ml (1 pint) stock to achieve the desired consistency. Season with cinnamon, cumin, and white pepper.
Step 8: Melt butter in a small pan just before serving and cook until it has a nut-brown color. Serve with extra cumin, and sprinkled the berbere over the top.
Armenian Harissa Dish Additional Information
- Per serving, this recipe has 46 calories, 4g of fat, 228mg of sodium, 148mg of potassium
- It will take 3 hours to prepare this dish.
- This recipe will make enough to serve 6 people.
- Harissa is also very popular in Lebanese villages throughout its numerous ethnic groups, where it is usually cooked in a big pot in a village gathering on religious occasions. Furthermore, the Assyrians use Harissa as a dish on Eeda Zoora, Christmas, and Eeda Gura, Easter.
- Harissa is very similar to a common dish made of meat and finely ground wheat among Persian Gulf Arab countries known as harees.