From the looks of harrise, you would doubt that Yemenite food is a celebration of flavor and color. Its color definitely can’t be described as vibrant. Yet the flavor and aroma resulting from these ingredients are unexpectedly heavenly. For a gluten-free alternative, use kasha (roasted buckwheat). Making the samna by smoking the jar feels like you are carrying on the ages-old tradition it is.
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups coarse bulgur
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 sticks unsalted butter
- 6 fenugreek seeds, optional
- A vine twig or a cinnamon stick, optional
- A clean glass jar
- Boil the water. In a separate pot, place bulgur and salt. Add the boiling water and cover the pot, leaving a small space for steam to escape. Simmer on low for 25 to 30 minutes. Stir with a fork to break up lumps.
- To make the samna, roast fenugreek seeds in a small pot over a low heat for a few minutes, shaking the pot often. Add butter and cook on low for about 20 minutes. As it cooks, the milk solids will burn and sink to the bottom and foam will form on the top. Remove the foam from the top as it appears and stir occasionally. While butter is cooking, burn the vine twig or the cinnamon stick over the stove flame so it smokes, then hold the jar upside down over the smoking twig to fill it with smoke. Cover the jar and let stand for few minutes. Repeat this three times.
- When butter is amber gold, turn off burner and let stand for five minutes. Pour clarified butter into the smoked jar, being careful to leave out the residue on the bottom of the pot. You can filter by placing a clean cloth on the jar’s mouth as you pour the butter in. Let cool to room temperature, cover and place in the refrigerator. Spoon out the congealed samna when needed.
- To assemble harrise, scoop 2/3 cup of hot bulgur into a bowl. Add a teaspoon of clarified butter and a teaspoon of honey, or to taste, and mix.
- Cooking Buckwheat, a gluten-free alternative
- The ratio of kasha (roasted buckwheat) to water is 1:2.
- Roast buckwheat in a hot pan, stirring constantly, for about 5-7 minutes.
- Add boiling water and 1/4 tsp. salt per 1 cup of kasha.
- Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, until water is absorbed.
- Non-traditional Variations
- Substitute any natural sweetener for the honey– sugar, brown sugar, silan (date syrup), or maple syrup. Use ready-made ghee. Add milk, buttermilk or almond milk. Use another grain. Gluten-free alternatives are kasha or quinoa.