Quick and Easy Pakistani Harissa Recipe to Please Your Family

Pakistani harissa recipeHarissa is a popular Pakistani dish that mainly includes beef and lentils. I am going to share with you the most authentic Pakistani recipe of harissa, which will be a treat for your taste buds. For those who have not eaten Harissa before, it is quite like the keskek, a sort of homogeneous porridge made from stewed and boned beef and coarsely ground and soaked wheat and lentils. Harissa is quite popular in the holiday season and is also a part of Arab and Armenian cuisine. Some historians contribute Harissa’s origin in Kashmir others in Central Asia. Hence it has influenced the culture, traditions and food rituals of Pakistani people also. Harissa is a popular item on the menu of many Pakistani restaurants specially in the winters. Traditionally, the ingredients are slow-cooked for hours and stirred with a wooden spoon, until the mixture achieves the desired consistency. Some even add meatballs or small kebabs to the gravy, which gives the dish a unique taste. Being a food lover, I have also enjoyed the dish many times and cherish the savory experience when I taste this dish with friends and family. Harissa is a favorite dish of many Pakistani and non-Pakistani households. While the dish is high on calories, it is much better than junk food. It has no preservatives or artificial ingredients and is a rich source of proteins and good fats.

What Does Best Complement Pakistani Harissa?

You can serve Harissa with naan (Pita bread) on special occasions or at large gatherings and let your friends and family devour the dish. It reflects the hospitality and rich culture of ancient cuisines of the affluent families who like to indulge in food. You can also serve it with other types of traditional bread and roti. The dish can have complementary sides including roast lamb, mutton steamed rice, and other Pakistani cuisines, rich in taste and high on calories. Traditionally, Harissa is also a part of breakfast or brunch menu in parties and hotels. When served as a breakfast entrée, Harissa is served with pitta bread or roti. If followed by a cup of tea, Harissa can be a divine savory experience for anyone. Many restaurants serve Harissa along with rich desserts such as Makhni halwa. It is a dessert containing gram flour, semolina, sugar, and oil. It is traditional to use beef while cooking Harissa butyou can also prepare with other meats of your choice such as lamb or chicken.

Pakistani Harissa Recipe

For gravy:

  • 750 grams Beef (with bones)
  • 1 cup Cracked Wheat or Oats
  • 100 grams Rice
  • 100 grams Yellow lentil (Moong Daal)
  • 1 Onion medium-sized
  • 1 Cup Oil
  • 50 grams Green chilies
  • 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped Ginger
  • 5-6 pieces Cloves
  • 2 pieces Black Cardamom

For garnish:

  • 1 cup Oil
  • 1 finely sliced Onion
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala (see tips)

For kebabs (optional)

  • 1/2 kg chicken mince
  • 1 tsp Red chili
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1/2 chopped Onion

For meat preparation

  1. Wash the beef thoroughly and steam it in a pressure cooker along with cardamom, cloves, onion, garlic, green chilis, salt and pepper, and let it cook while the steam blows for 30 minutes.

  2. Open the cooker and check if the meat is tender. If the meat is not tender give it pressure for another 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Once the meat is tender, separate the bones from meat, strain the stock, and keep it aside.

  4. Grind the meat in a mortar and pestle or chopper till it changes its color.

Wheat, Rice and Lentil

  1. Wash and soak the yellow lentil overnight.

  2. Allow the pre-soaked wheat to boil and add 2 glasses of water to the mixture.

  3. Break the pre-soaked rice in the mortar into small pieces and then boil it. Similarly, boil the lentil.

  4. Once the rice and lentil have reached the desired consistency, add a little beef stock to it in the food processor.


  1. Put together oil, ginger, and ginger paste in a pot and let it fry. After this add meat and fry for another 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Add beef stock and let it cook for 5 minutes, then add rice and lentil mixture and cook for another 5 minutes.

  3. In the end, add rolled oats and you should have a thick consistency forming in the pan. Use the hand blender and mash any big pieces of rice or beef left in the pot.

For kebabs (optional)

  1. Make oval-shaped meatballs with the mixture of chicken mince and spices and shallow fry the meatballs in a frying pan for 10 minutes.

  2. When cooked from both sides dish them out and put them in the Harissa gravy just prior to serving.

For Garnish

  1. Dish out the harissa mixture in a serving dish and prepare the garnish (Tarka). Fry chopped onions until golden brown, then add green chilies in it.

  2. Add half a teaspoon of garam masala and when the onions begin to turn brown, spread the mixture on top of the harissa.

  3. Harissa tastes best when served hot, hence the final garnish should be prepared only 10 minutes before serving.


  1. If prepared without a pressure cooker the cooking time will be five to six hours.

  2. Garam Masala is prepared by grinding together cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in equal quantity.

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