Harissa: A Comforting Wheat and Meat Porridge from the Heartlands


Indulge in the warm embrace of this traditional Harissa, a hearty wheat and meat porridge that has been nourishing souls and bringing families together for generations. Hailing from the heartlands of the Middle East, this comforting dish is a true celebration of simple, wholesome ingredients and time-honored traditions.

Harissa: A Comforting Wheat and Meat Porridge from the Heartlands

Preparation Details

  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Number of Servings and Serving Size

  • Servings: 6
  • Serving Size: 1 cup

Nutritional Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 380
  • Total Fat: 12g
  • Saturated Fat: 4g
  • Cholesterol: 60mg
  • Sodium: 620mg
  • Total Carbohydrates: 48g
  • Dietary Fiber: 6g
  • Protein: 20g


  • 1 cup (200g) whole wheat berries or cracked wheat
  • 1 lb (450g) ground lamb or beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) black pepper
  • 6 cups (1.4 liters) beef or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) lemon juice
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish

Detailed Method of Preparation

  1. Soak the wheat: In a large bowl, cover the whole wheat berries or cracked wheat with water and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Cook the meat: In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the ground lamb or beef over medium-high heat, breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a plate and set aside.
  3. Sauté the aromatics: In the same pot, add the chopped onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.
  4. Add the spices: Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, cumin, salt, and black pepper, and cook for 1 minute to toast the spices.
  5. Add the wheat and broth: Return the cooked meat to the pot, along with the soaked wheat and beef or chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until the wheat is tender and the porridge has thickened.
  6. Finish and serve: Remove the Harissa from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Ladle the porridge into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley.

Tips for Culinary Success

  • Use high-quality, flavorful broth for maximum taste.
  • Soak the wheat berries or cracked wheat for at least 30 minutes to help them cook faster and become tender.
  • Adjust the consistency of the porridge by adding more broth for a thinner texture or cooking longer for a thicker consistency.
  • Serve the Harissa with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of sumac, or a drizzle of olive oil for an extra flavor boost.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I use a different type of wheat?

A: While whole wheat berries or cracked wheat are traditional, you can substitute with bulgur wheat or even brown rice for a variation.

Q: Can I make this dish vegetarian or vegan?

A: Absolutely! Omit the meat and use vegetable broth instead. You can also add in extra vegetables like diced carrots, celery, or spinach for added nutrition.

Q: Can I make Harissa ahead of time?

A: Yes, this porridge reheats well and can be made a day or two in advance. Simply reheat it on the stovetop, adding a splash of broth or water if it has thickened too much.

As you savor each comforting spoonful of this traditional Harissa, let the warm flavors and textures transport you to the heartlands of the Middle East, where this dish has been nourishing bodies and souls for generations, bringing families and communities together around the shared love of simple, wholesome food.