Monday, 9 December 2013

Harissa, a winter delight that Kashmir loves


Harissa is a very popular meat preparation which is made for breakfast. It is usually slow cooked for many hours, with spices. And yes, hand stirred for hours and hours. With sharp dip in temperature, Harissa is the most preferred delicacy in winter in Srinagar.

Harissa
It is said that concept of Harissa making was brought to Kashmir by Mirza Hyder Duglat of Yarkand during Chak period in 1540. Some historians attribute Harissa’s origin in Kashmir to Central Asia, which influenced the art, custom, rituals, belief and the food-culture of the Kashmir. And thus they got the blessing in the form of a flavoursome delight, now known as Harissa.

Hareesas' roots can also be traced to the Mughal period. It was during Afghan rule of Kashmir that Harissa was formally introduced in its present form in the Valley. At that time economic condition of Kashmir was so weak that they could not afford to relish Harissa. They boiled turnips as they were cheap as alternative to Harissa. Gradually two Harissa shops were opened at Aali Kadal and Saraf Kadal in Shahar-e-Khaas which used to be thronged by customers.  But one at Aali Kadal was famous as it added milk to the delicacy. People gifted it to each other after they used to win bet of the snowfall. Harissa has now become a part and parcel of the culture.


Recipe that I have tried, and can vouch for :) and this time I wanted to prepare it specially because everyone told me its very complex, which it is not but does require loads of patience.

Ingredients

Meat (lamb) - 1 kg (chopped into very small pieces)
Garlic - 4 cloves
Onions (chopped in chunks) - 1/2 kg
Cinnamon stick (daalchini) - 2
Big brown cardamom (badi elaichi) - 4
Green cardamoms (choti elaichi) - 8
Cloves (laung) - 4
Peppercorn (kali mirch) - 8
Black cumin - 1 teaspoonful
Fennel seeds (sauf, not powder) - 1/2 cup
Dried ginger powder (shounth) - 1 tablespoon
Salt (to taste)
Water - 1 litre

Rice flour - 1/2 cup
Milk - 250 ml
Oil - 1 and 1/2 cup

Shallots - 4 (for garnish)

Recipe
Whole Spices
Fennel seeds


  1. Add chopped meat, water and all the ingredients (except rice flour, oil, milk and shallots) in a pressure cooker.
  2. Cook on Medium high heat, after 2 whistles turn down the heat to simmer.
  3. Let it simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. 
  4. Turn off the heat and leave it like that till all the pressure is released.
  5. Open the lid of pressure cooker and stir with a wooden spoon till all the ingredients mix up.
  6. Remove the bones, if any and the cardamom covers, cloves and cinnamon sticks, if visible.
  7. Put the rice flour in 1 cup cold water and make a paste (USE COLD WATER).
    Rice Flour Paste
  8. Put the pressure cooker back on flame and add the rice flour paste and keep stirring the mixture.
  9. Add milk.
  10. Add about 1 cup oil.
  11. Cook it on medium high heat, stirring every 2 minutes until you get the desired consistency (may be for about 45 minutes to an hour) till oil starts leaving the sides of the cooker.



  12. For garnishing, cut the shallots in long slices, heat oil to very high temperature and fry shallots till they are crunchy golden brown, don't let the shallots turn black and avoid breaking the sliced onions in the pan.
    Shallots
  13. Serve hot with crispy fried shallots (along with all the oil) on top, preferably with kashmiri bread.

PS: Chop the meat into very small pieces so that you wont reqiure much more stirring.
When reheating before serving, if the consistency is too thick, add few 3-4 spoonful of milk.

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