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Photo essay: You’ll warm to this Kashmiri special

Residents turn to Harissa because of its unique blend of Kashmiri spices, which keep them warm

  • Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 December 23, 2011
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Faisal Magray, Gulf News reader
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Gulf News reader Faisal Magray took us on a journey to Kashmir and introduced us to a food that brings many Kashmiris together during the winter months.

He said: "Harissa is a popular dish in Kashmir and has been since the Dogra period [the Dogras are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group some of whom moved from the Indian state of Rajasthan to Kashmir centuries ago, bringing with them several Hindu traditions].

"Harissa is usually made during the cold winter months and is available early in the morning in little cafes. Residents turn to Harissa because of its unique blend of Kashmiri spices, which keep them warm.

"Winters in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer seasonal capital, mean temperatures fall to -6 degrees celsius. Harissa requires a lot of hard work. Mutton is first stripped of fat and then spiced with a concoction of cardamom, cinnamon and other spices. It is then cooked on a slow fire in an earthenware pot.

"Requiring constant stirring, the bones are then separated from the meat and Kashmiri rice is added. After nearly 12 hours, the Harissa is ready. People in Kashmir usually take Harissa home or order it on special occasions such as weddings and Eid."

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Local flavour
  • Harissa, also known as harees, is a traditional dish around the Middle East. However, every country has its own way of perfecting it.
  • In the UAE, it is a common preparation during Ramadan. The ingredients are meat (either mutton or veal), wheat and water.
  • It does not contain spices but the cooking takes around seven hours and results in a strong meat flavour.
  • Wheat that goes into the making of the dish was originally brought into the UAE from India by Emirati traders and is now also grown locally.

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