Harissa from Kashmir

Harissa from Kashmir

When the winter chill sets in across Kashmir, there is a traditional dish that shows up on the Kashmiri breakfast table. It is filling, delicious and wholesome. It is a great way to begin the day by warming up the body and – at the same time – filling the belly. Since it is a large, hearty meal, it is sometimes also eaten as brunch. The dish is called Harissa – and if you want to make it at home, here is the authentic, traditional recipe.

The ingredients you will require are:

  • Mutton or Lamb meat: 1 kilogram
  • Basmati Rice: 250 grams
  • Onion: 2 bulbs
  • Fennel (Saunf): 1 tablespoon
  • Cardamom (Black): 4-5 large ones
  • Cinnamon Sticks: 1 large
  • Mustard Oil: 6 tablespoon
  • Salt: 2 teaspoon

Also keep aside the following ingredients separately:

  • Atta or Sooji: 130 grams
  • Olives: 3
  • Cardamom (Green): 6
  • Cardamom (Black): 4
  • Cinnamon Sticks: 3 small ones

Preparation:

Soak the Basmati Rice for 10-12 hours the night before

How to make the Harissa:

Wash the meat and put it in a pressure cooker with 6 cups of water. Add salt, cardamoms, fennel and cinnamon to the pressure cooker. Turn on the heat and cook. After the first whistle, let it cook for one more hour. Then take the pressure cooker off the heat and remove the lid. The bones will now separate easily from the meat. Remove the bones from the cooker.

Drain the water from the Basmati Rice and place the rice in a mixer-blender. Blend till it takes on the consistency of a thick paste.

Take a pan and fill it with water till the halfway mark. Add the rice paste to this pan.

Mash the meat in the pressure cooker. The spices that you had added earlier will also form a rich juice in the cooker; mix this juice thoroughly with the meat. Now put this meat and spices mixture into the pan containing the rice paste.

Place the pan over a flame and cook on low heat for around 15 minutes till the mixture thickens. Now add the set of spices and Sooji/Atta that you had kept aside. Keep stirring till the contents of the pan form a rich and thick mixture.

Heat a little mustard oil in another pan and fry one onion till it becomes crisp. Add it to the rice and meat pan. Add the fried onion to the pan and keep stirring on low heat for another 15 minutes. Now cover the pan and let the mixture simmer for around 30 minutes. Some old-world Kashmiri folks also add around 100 ml of saffron water before covering the pan – but it’s not a compulsory part of the recipe.

After 30 minutes, take the pan off the heat and leave it on the dining table for the entire night. The next morning, fry the remaining onion and add it to the pan along with 4 tablespoon of Mustard Oil. Reheat the dish and serve it hot.

Yes, it takes time and a lot of care – but that’s the way the traditional Kashmiri Harissa has always been made.

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