Wheat berry stew

February 16, 2015  • 

wheat berries

This dish is found in one form or another throughout the region. In Lebanon, it is called hreesseh, in the Armenian community, in Syria, in Iraq. I am using a Kurdish version from Chef Asma Zeito (originally from Turkey). It is definitely a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal, perfect for a cold evening (to savor sitting by a fire).

INGREDIENTS: 6 servings

1 pound lamb with bones if possible (can substitute a whole chicken or beef stew)

1 large onion, peeled and quartered

1 1/2 cups shelled wheat berries, soaked in lots of water for 12 hours

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Spices: Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon black or white pepper

1 tablespoon red pepper powder

2 bay leaves (optional), or a cinnamon stick

1. Place the meat in a Dutch oven or slow cooker or large pot; add 8 cups of water and the onion and spices. Bring to a simmer, skim if necessary and let it simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender. Drain and reserve the meat stock and set the meat pieces aside.

2. Add the drained wheat berries and chickpeas to the stock and bring them to a slow boil, simmering them gently until they get softer. When the wheat berries swell-up and get tender, add the meat pieces back to the pot, stirring from time to time. Taste and adjust seasoning and serve with extra red pepper powder and yogurt on the side.

NOTE: If the stew gets too thick, add more water to the pot while the berries are cooking. For a spark of flavor, one-cup dressing of crushed and mashed garlic, lemon juice and olive oil swirled in at the end of cooking is a nice touch (mine, not Asma’s!)






6 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Wonderfully comforting and so satisfying.



  2. Krista says:

    What a simple yet nourishing dish, Joumana. I’d really like this on the cold summer nights we’re starting to have. 🙂

    • Joumana says:

      @Krista: you said it right, simple and nourishing. 🙂

      @Oui, Chef: Hope you do!

      @Amber: Thanks for the additional info, I believe the dish is named haleem in Iran as well. Need to double check this! 🙂

  3. Oui, Chef says:

    I am such a fan of wheat berries, I can’t wait to give this one a try. Must be SO GOOD with the lamb!

  4. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    This is certainly something different for me. It looks like a warm and comforting dish for a cold day!

  5. Amber says:

    In Pakistan and India, spices are added and chickpeas are replaced with lentils and the dish is called Haleem. It is served with delicious accompaniments such as fried onions, matchsticks of ginger, chillies and coriander. Very popular during Ramadan when the nourishing properties of the dish provide sustenance at the end of a long fast. As you rightly say, tie dish can be found in one form or another.

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