Bokoboko/Harees

Servings : Serves 4-6

If you are from East Africa, especially the Coast of Kenya, then chances are you know this dish!

In Eastern Africa, Bokoboko is the name for a dish more commonly known by its Arabic name, Harees. It is a sort of porridge made from shredded meat, wheat and spices. This version is flavored with sugar and melted butter or ghee. In Africa it is most popular among Swahili people of Arab ancestry. Harees was brought to Eastern Africa hundreds of years ago by Arab settlers; it is still a popular dish in the Middle East.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat, soaked overnight
  • 1/2 cup rice (soaked for an hour)
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1/4 kg steak meat cut in cubes
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 7 cups warm water
  • 2 tbsp. ghee or butter
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper powder

Instructions

In most cases harees is made with just wheat and meat, but I find the little bit of rice tends to add some extra flavor to it. You can of course omit the rice and substitute with more wheat, or use less rice, just adjust the difference with some extra wheat.

Drain the rice and wheat, rinse them out well and put them in a pressure cooker. Add everything else in, then boil together. Skim off the foam that comes up and then close the pressure cooker and boil for 45 minutes on low heat. You can place a tava under the pressure cooker if you are worried of the stuff inside getting burnt.

Once the times is up, release pressure and open the cooker, everything will be quite tender, pick out the cardamoms and cinnamon sticks if you can find them and discard, then either mash everything using a masher or run it through the processor so that it becomes a paste. It doesn’t have to be completely smooth, I like it slightly grainy/textured. Put everything back in a pan and keep the heat on very low, with a tava under the pan so that the harees doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring every so often and continue to cook the harees for another 20 minutes to develop the flavors further. Remember to stir every few minutes. If it feels too dry, you can add a bit of warm water. Once it is nice and thick, scoop into a serving dish, and make a dip in the center, then pour the melted butter (recipe below) and sprinkle sugar to your taste. Enjoy!

I served this dish with aromatic flavored melted butter and some sugar, but you can serve with ghee/saman and honey…whatever you prefer.
 

To prepare the butter

Melt 50gm of butter in a pan, add a date, 2-3 pods of cardamom and a pinch of cinnamon powder. Once melted and the date has pulled away all the foam from the butter, sieve into a bowl then drizzle over your ready harees just before serving.

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