Harissa is an Armenian, Ararat plain dish. It is a thick korkot (dried or roasted crushed wheat) porridge with fat-rich meat, usually chicken or lamb. When Armenian holy days involved fasting and penance, herbs were substituted for meat in harissa.
The extraordinarily long cycle of cooking is an integral part of harissa culture. The time taken to prepare the dish is part of its valued importance. This is similar to many other ritual dishes around the world. Stories vary about the dish’s roots. Armenia’s patron saint Gregory the Illuminator, gave a meal of love and kindness to the poor, according to Armenian legend. There weren’t enough sheep to feed the crowds, so they added wheat to the pans.
The wheat is soaked overnight and then cooked with meat and butter, or sheep tail fat, in broth. The residual liquid is filtered. Cinnamon, sugar, and clarified butter can be used to garnish the harees or harissa.
About Armenian Harissa Dish
Harissa is still considered a charity meal to this day and is traditionally cooked for Easter each year, as well as commemorating the resistance of the Musa Ler during the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
There are two divergent opinions about the preparation method; one argues that stirring harissa is forbidden until it is cooked, while the other maintains that it should be stirred as soon as the wheat is half-cooked.
The finished meal is served in bowls, buttered on top, and combined with a side of pickled vegetables and flatbread. For more international recipes, click here.
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