Harissa-the winter delicacy of Kashmir!

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One of the favorite breakfasts of winter Kashmir is the sizzling hot harissa! People welcome the winters with this traditionally prepared delicacy. It is generally eaten at breakfast to ensure body warmth during the cold day and is eaten occasionally and not daily as perceived by some, not that we won’t love to eat it daily ;) Harissa is a mutton preparation, tempered with onions and ghee/butter or simply vegetable oil. The mutton is cooked, deboned and then slowly stir cooked till it acquires a smooth paste form. The slow stirring is the essence of this mouth watering dish and is done manually till date. Harissa is served hot with flat bread or naan, with tempered onion rings and optionally kebabs.

So get set to learn the recipe of your favorite winter dish of Kashmir. In terms of preparation it is moderately difficult to prepare as it requires a lot of manual stirring which leaves you quite tired, but it is worth the taste. A little hard work will do you good to savor its deliciousness later :)

We will do a recipe for 1 kg mutton that would yield about 6-8 medium plates of cooked harissa.

Ingredients Required:

Mutton - 1 kg

Rice flour - ½ cup (or you can use 1 cup of cooked rice in its place)

Milk – 250 ml

Onions – ½ kg sliced (Keep aside 1 cup onion sliced and fried for garnish later)

Spices Required:   

Garlic Cloves – 4

Peppercorns – 8

Cloves – 4

Cinnamon Stick – 2

Black/Brown Cardamom – 2

Green Cardamom – 8

Fennel Seeds – 1 /2 Cup

Dried Ginger Powder – 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Vegetable Oil – 1 cup

Get Ready to Start:

  • Take a pressure cooker and add meat to it. Take a generous amount of water, more than you usually do, as the stock will be used later as well.
  • Add to it, sliced onions and all the spices.

Tip: Add only a little salt for now. You can add more salt later to ensure it is in the right amount. The stirring process later has a tendency to increase the salt. So be on the safer side, and add only a small quantity.

  • Cook on medium flame and cook for 2 whistles. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Turn off the heat and keep as such till all the steam is released by the cooker.
  • Open the cooker and with a spadle stir all the ingredients once to mix them well.
  • Remove the bones from the flesh. Keep it aside for now.
  • Filter the remaining stock and remove any of the visible spices like cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks.
  • Take 1 cup of stock and add rice flour to it. Make a smooth paste.

You can either use the same cooker or take a more open mouthed utensil for the following steps. It is your choice, but a wider utensil will definitely help. Transfer the deboned mutton into the utensil/cooker and put it back on the flame.

  • Add the rice flour paste (or cooked rice) to this mix.
  • Follow with a glass of milk and one cup of oil.
  • Cook it on the medium heat while stirring continuously for about 1 to 1.5 hours or till you get the required consistency. Add the remaining stock, slowly to this mix, while stirring all the time.This is an important step in the whole process. The smoothness of the harissa is determined here.  So make sure you put some extra effort and stir really well for a long time. Normally the stirring is done with a long wooden spadle, locally known as choncha. The smoother the better :)

Check the mixture for salt. Add more, to your taste if required. In case there is more salt in it, add little quantities of milk till it is neutralized while stirring.

  • Once the oil starts leaving the sides of the cooker, your harissa is cooked and ready!

Traditionally, the harissa is cooked the night before and eaten as a breakfast the next morning.In the morning you can temper it with oil/ghee/butter and some sliced onions for an enhanced flavor. Additionally pre-cooked kebabs are also served as garnish, though they are not necessary.

  • Garnish it with the crispy onion fries or pran (shallots) and grab some hot naan or roti! Indulge in the heavenly deliciousness of a sizzling plate of harissa beating in taste, the chill of a cold winter morning.

Please Note: Don’t eat it alone. It tastes better with friends and family :)

P.S For those who find it hard to make, we have an option for their love of harissa! They can buy Kashmiri Harissa online here.

 We will love to hear from you! Share your thoughts below. Also if there are any more Kashmiri Recipes you would like to know, please mention them in the comments and we will have them posted for you :)

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