Category Archives: Food in UAE Pop Culture

Harees…new recipe variation

Fasting for Ramadan 2013 starts tomorrow and my daughter and I have been doing food prep this past week.   Yesterday we filled about 250 samboosas and then froze them.  So we are good to go for a few weeks, InshaAllah (God Willing).

A daily Ramadan staple is Harees.  I only ever cook it during Ramadan.  It is tasty and filling and a great thing to have for suhoor.  The original recipe uses wheatberries which is locally called “harees”.  It is a thick porridge made with a few simple ingredients:  wheatberries, choice of meat, water, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.

I met a lady, originally from Iran, now living here in the UAE who once told me that she made Harees using Quaker oatmeal and nobody knew the better of it.  I was intrigued because when I make it, it takes forever and her way sounded much easier.  I never followed through with her suggestion until about 3 weeks ago when another lady on a Facebook group that I am on, shared her recipe for Harees and it included oatmeal…so I had to try it!  It was so easy and tasty to make…even my husband liked it and could not tell the difference until I told him!

So here it is…easy peasy:

Harees Using Quaker Oatmeal

1 kg (2 pounds of meat of your choice) you can use lamb, beef, or chicken.  Note:  if you use beef, I suggest it be 1/2 kg  or one pound.  When I first made this recipe I used 1kg of beef and the harees came out a darker color than usually…it was still very tasty but not so good looking.

3 cups of Quaker oatmeal

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stick of cinnamon

1.5 liters (6 cups of water)

1 tablespoon of salt

1/4 tsp of black pepper

1/2 tsp of cinnamon powder

1/4 to 1/2 cup of melted butter

Directions:

In a large pot, add the meat of your choice, the chopped onion, cinnamon stick, and water.  Bring to a boil and cook until very tender.

Remove meat/chicken…debone if you have to…and then place into a food process and blitz for a few seconds until shredded.  Or you can finely chop the meat/chicken.

Using a strainer, drain the stock into a large pot.  Add the shredded meat/chicken, the 3 cups of Quaker oats, salt, pepper, and cinnamon.  Stir using a whisk.  Add more water if necessary by the cupful.  Bring to a boil and check every 5 to 10 minutes.  Stir each time you check on it.  Add more boiling water if necessary.  Cook for about 40 minutes.  Add the melted butter, stir and then serve.

(Note:  Make sure you stir the Harees every few minutes because it will stick to the pot and become an awful burned mess!)

Thank you Fatema for sharing the recipe 🙂

Thareed Laham (Flat Bread Layered with Lamb Stew)

Thareed  is another popular dish to make when a Muslim is fasting.  It is very common to make Thareed  for Iftar (breaking of the fast) during Ramadan because it is light on the stomach.  It is basically crispy flat bread layered with a meat soup.  Actually it is a cross between a hearty soup and a soupy stew.  (Does that make sense?)

It is often mispronounced as “Fareed” but the correct way to say it is Thareed.

Thareed is even mentioned in a hadith of the Prophet Mohammed 

Thareed can be made with lamb, chicken, and also with just vegetables.  Today I will give you the recipe for Thareed with lamb and will post the recipes for the chicken and vegetable later on, InshaAllah.

The best bread to use when making Thareed is Khobuz Raqaq which is a crispy wafer-thin bread.

If you live in the UAE you can usually find it in abundance during Ramadan.  There are women who make this early in the morning and will sit out front places like the Co-Op or the fruit and vegetable market selling these for Dh10 a bag.

You could also use Khobuz Irani which is a thin flat bread (about the thickness of tortillas) and this can be bought at any Iranian bakery.  Sorry I don’t have a picture to share of what it looks like.  Here in Sharjah there are many Iranian bakeries which are little hole-in-wall places in the neighborhoods of Ghafiyah andUmmKhanoor.

When I was living in the US, I would substitute Roti which I bought from the frozen food section of an Indian grocery store.  You could also use regular pita bread.  I have never used it before but a friend of mine has.

 This recipe can easily be halved but since it is Ramadan it is nice to share with your neighbors or to feed the poor.

Okay so on to the recipe:

Thareed Laham (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

1 kg (2 pounds) lamb stew meat

1 ½ liters of water (6 cups)

2 cups of finely chopped onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon of corn oil

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 large potatoes, each potato quartered

4 small koosa (courgettes or  kalabasa squash) each piece cut into half

1 large carrot cut into 4 pieces

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 pieces of whole black dried lemons

1-3 pieces of green chili

3 cubes of Maggi

1 tablespoon of Arabic Bizar spice mix

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon black lemon powder (loomi aswad)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

½ teaspoon black pepper powder

¼ teaspoon red Kashmiri chili powder (or cayenne pepper)

¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped

5 large piece of Raqaq bread or 2-3 pieces of Khobuz Irani (or you can substitue Roti or Pita bread)

(Note:  Tear the Raqaq bread or the Khobuz Irani into large pieces…about the size of the palm of your hand.  Leave the pieces out to air dry on a large platter on your kitchen counter or dining room table.  If you do not have Raqaq bread or Khobuz Irani available, you use Roti or Pita bread.)

Directions:

In a large pot, boil the lamb meat removing the foam when it starts to boil.  Boil for one hour.

Strain and reserve the broth.

In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions until they get a nice golden brown color.  Don’t burn the onions.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant.

Add the tomato paste and all of the vegetables, EXCEPT the koosa (squash) mix together to coat the vegetables with the tomato paste.

Rinse the two whole dried lemons and then pierce each one once with a sharp knife.

Add the lamb meat, reserved broth, Maggi cubes, and the remaining ingredients, EXCEPT the koosa and  the chopped cilantro.

Add more water if necessary to make this stew a bit soupy.  Taste for seasoning.

Bring to a boil and then simmer until the potatoes are almost done.  You can now add the koosa (squash) and the chopped cilantro and cook until the koosa is fork tender.

Preparation:

Carefully remove the meat and vegetables from the pot and keep aside on a large platter.

In a large deep sided bowl, add one layer of Raqaq bread (or whichever bread you are using.

Add another layer of bread and ladle some more liquid.

Each layer of bread will be soaking with the liquid from the stew.  None of the bread should be left dry.

Ladle the remaining liquid from the pot onto the bread.

Now you arrange the vegetables and lamb meat over the soaked bread.

You can garnish with a little bit more chopped cilantro if you wish.

Serve and enjoy!

Note:  Thareed is best eaten on the same day.

Print this recipe.

Harees

Harees bil Dajaj (Harees with Chicken)

Harees is one of the daily Ramadan staples here in the UAE.  It is easy on the stomach after a long day of fasting.  It is a very simple, delicious,and filling dish that can be eaten at Iftar (breaking the fast) or for Suhoor the meal before Fajr (morning) prayers.  It is served either alone as a main dish or as a side dish with all the other goodies during Ramadan.

During Ramadan, you will find this is one of those dishes that is widely shared between neighbors….if you should receive a bit too much or you get tired of eating it, it will freeze very nicely.  Just freeze it in an aluminum container, thaw it out in the fridge, and then heat it up in the oven.

Harees is also one of those dishes that you will find at every occasion…Ramadan, Eid, weddings, engagement parties, any special event…so I would classify it as one of the foods in UAE popular culture.

The “harees” grain is wheatberries in English and can be made with either lamb or chicken.  When my family was living in America, I also used pearl barley for this because it looked so similar to wheatberries and I achieved the same tasty result using it.

Also, you can add as much or as little chicken or lamb as you wish.  For the 2 cups of harees, I will usually use 1 kg of meat.  Of course, the more meat you use the more richer the dish.  But for economic reasons the harees would be more.  If you are using lamb this is a good time to use those bones and make a stock from it and debone what you can use.

Harees (wheatberries) up close

I made Harees Laham (Lamb Harees) just the other day and I experimented using the crockpot/slow cooker.  It is summertime and the temperatures outside are at least 45C.  During Ramadan in the summer, I want to spend as little time in the kitchen!  The results…I think it turned out better in the crockpot than cooking it over the stove top!

Okay now, on to the recipe:

Harees  (serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

2 cups of harees (wheatberries) For best results, you will need to soak the harees (wheatberries) overnight or for at least 8 hours.

1 kilo (2 pounds) of chicken or lamb

2 sticks of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of black pepper powder

2-3 teaspoons of salt

water

samen (local-made clarified butter) or melted butter

Directions:

First of all, you will want to boil the chicken or the meat until tender.  After boiling until tender, debone your chicken or lamb.  Save the stock to use later on in this recipe.

In a large pot, add the harees, deboned chicken or lamb, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and the stock.  Add water if needed.  The stock/water need to cover the harees  by about 2 or 3 inches.

Bring to a boil and then turn down the fire/heat to low.  Let it boil, boil, boil until it reduces to a watery oatmeal-like consistency.  Total cooking time will be about 1 hour…I didn’t time it.

(Note:  Be sure to check every 10 minutes and just stir the pot so that the harees won’t burn at the bottom.)

Now you are ready to blend the harees.  Using a hand mixer, blend the harees in the pot until smooth.  It won’t be entirely smooth.  You can also use one of those hand blenders to do the job.

The harees when ready will have a thick consistency.  Serve on a small platter and spoon the samen (clarified butter) or melted butter on top to cover.  Some people will decorate the top of the harees with powdered cinnamon in a simple pattern.

Harees bil Laham (Harees with Lamb)

Cooking Harees in the crockpot or slow cooker:

This was my experiment:  If you cooking the harees using a crockpot, you will just need to add all the ingredients to the crockpot.  Add enough stock and water to equal 3 liters (12 cups).  I cooked this on high for 6 hours.

I added the lamb without deboning (I don’t think I will do that again).  I had to add a little more water so that I could blend it and then let it cook a little bit more (maybe an hour).

I will be making the harees again this way today because I think that it turned out much better than on the stovetop.  This time though I will be using already cooked and deboned lamb.

Harees at the end of cooking time. I just needed to add a bit of water to blend.

Ode to Laban Up

Laban UpLaban Up is so much a part of the UAE culture.  Laban Up is a salty yogurt drink that is popular to have during snack time with a samoon and cheese sandwich or with chips Omani.  The fisherman bring it with them on their fishing trips to replenish their salt levels (sort of like a UAE gatorade).  Laban Up is also a staple during Ramadan Iftar.  It so delicious.

Ode to Laban Up

Laban Up Oh Laban Up!
Oh how my family loves you!
In the long, hot summer months
You are a frozen treat
Nothing else will do

Laban Up for a snack
In my child’s lunch pack
With a samoon sandwich filled with creamy cheese
My child’s stomach you will surely please

As a daily Ramadan staple
You will be found on our table
When we break our fast
We’ll have 3 dates on our plate
And Laban Up in our glass

When going out all day fishing
Laban Up is one refreshment
that will not be missing
You are a fisherman’s favorite for sure
After hours of pulling up the gargoors

Oh Laban Up, what would life be without you?
You are our favorite snack time drink
Tried and true.