Ramadan is incomplete in this part of the world without a regular supply of “Harees”. I bet anybody who has been here will agree.
“Harees” is nothing that whole wheat slow cooked along with mutton and bones till nicely mashed. Umma would say that in those days (early 80s), she has seen the maids at the Arab houses would have a huge pot outside the house kept on a makeshift stove, with fire from dried date palm or wood and they would stir in once in a while to ensure it doesn’t stick. The harees would be cooked for hours till you are unable to distinguish the whole wheat nor the mutton. The bones that would be floating on top would be fished out and then the harees would be packed in casseroles with a generous topping of ghee, called as “smen”. These are then distributed to the mosques, labour camps and to all the needy across. Sometimes, on our way back to home from work, we can see people lined up to collect these casseroles of “harees” from the Ramadan tents that come up in every nook and corner of the country.
Umma never liked harees, till almost the time she was leaving the country. She regrets the quantity that she would throw in her ignorant days, may Allah forgive her! The harees is such a wholesome food that it serves enough for dinner and will keep you full for a long time. In the initial days, we would daily get our stock of harees and some delicious biriyani and umma would be the happiest, since she wouldn’t have to cook that night. 😀 As years went by, our supply dwindled, don’t really know the reason. 🙁 Of late, we get it when we least expect it and since it stays well in the fridge for days, it acts well for the rainy days.
Making it at home is actually a breeze if you have a pressure cooker – which we Indians are guaranteed to have! If you notice, this is so similar to the Aleesa that is served in Thalassery, but with a little Kerala touch. I am sure that it is the influence of the spice trading in those days. The method of cooking is ditto though there is the difference of coconut milk and fried onions in the Malabar version (which I normally don’t do – lazy reasons! 😉 ), and is mostly cooked with chicken since mutton is not very widely available and is expensive too. The flavoring though is the same – cinnamon, salt and pepper. Let’s quickly go the recipe… Do try to make it since it is really easy and a super filling meal too!
Linking to The Schizo Chef’s “Ramadan Around the World” event…
Harees ~ Emirati Wholewheat Mash
- 1 1/2 cup whole wheat soaked overnight
- 350 gm mutton with soft bones
- 3 1/4 cup water
- 1 big stick cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Ghee for topping
- Add all ingredients in a pressure cooker.
- Cook on high for three whistles and then keep on simmer for 40 minutes.
- Switch off and allow the pressure to go by itself.
- Open the lid, fish out the cinnamon and the hard bones that are on the top.
- Using a hand blender, blend the mixture till almost smooth.
- Serve hot with ghee...