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Hareesa (Chicken and Shelled Wheat)

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  • by chrisyonan

Hareesa is an all-purpose food. You can eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and it always seems to fit the bill. My mother has gotten into the habit of serving it at Christmas as an appetizer because everyone loves it so much. It is made of shelled wheat and chicken that has been cooked for hours in nothing but chicken broth and then blended. It comes out the consistency of oatmeal. It may sound a bit strange but it is filling in the most satisfying way (not to mention healthy). Like all Assyrian recipes, this makes enough for weeks at a time, but feel free to freeze half of it for a rainy day. It keeps well! You may also have to find a Middle Eastern store for the shelled wheat – even places like Whole Foods don’t generally carry it. Exciting, right?!?!



-1 lb whole wheat shelled

-4 large bonless, skinless chicken breasts

-4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs

-32 oz chicken broth (low sodium!)


That’s it. Crazy, right?



Wash and soak the wheat in water overnight. Drain.


Place drained soaked wheat in a large pot and add water to about 1-inch above the wheat. Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check it often to be sure the water doesn’t go below the level of the wheat. If it does, add boiled water.


Once the wheat is boiling, cut the chicken into strips or chunks and place in a second pot. Cover with the chicken broth and simmer, covered, until cooked (about 15-20 minutes). I generally just let it go until the wheat has finished boiling for 30-minutes. 


After the wheat has cooked for 30-minutes, add the chicken, broth, and 2 tablespoons of salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 2 1/2 hours, stirring often so the bottom doesn’t burn. In the event that the water level gets low, add more boiled water. Don’t add too much though, because when you reheat it later you can always add a touch of water to rehydrate it (that’s my mother’s note. I find that the broth level has never gotten low enough to merit adding water, but hey, Mama knows best).


After about 1 hour of cooking the chicken and wheat, use an immersion blender and blend until there are no more chunks. Cover and continue to simmer for the remaining 1 1/2 hours. The end product should have the consistency of oatmeal.


Serve in bowls with melted butter and ground coriander seeds on top. It’s also delicious plain. 




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