BOKO BOKO (AL HAREES) - EAST AFRICAN/LAMU STYLE
Al harees originates from the Middle East and is a traditional Arabic dish with a thick porridge consistency. It mainly consists of wheat, meat (or chicken) and seasoned with salt and spices (optional). It is a popular treat during Ramadhan and Eid but can as well be eaten any day or time. As with any dish, the seasonings will differ due to personal preference and region one comes from. The food is usually eaten topped up with ghee/oil and sugar. In East Africa the dish is known as BOKO BOKO. The Lamu/Kenyan style has the addition of rice to it, which makes it very elastic and fulfilling. The Kenyan/East African way is similar to the Arabic Al Harees, the difference arising from the additional of rice only. Otherwise, the rest of the preparation/method remains the same.
PREPARATION & METHOD
HOW TO COOK AL HAREES: KENYAN STYLE
MORE INFORMATION & TIPS
1) Al harees is a one pot meal, traditionally made from ground wheat which is added to a pot and simmered for many hours until the wheat is fully cooked and the meat has dissolved into the wheat. The mixture is then stirred and beaten up (with a big wooden spoon- known as 'mwiko') until it is a smooth consistency.
2) Please note: Although some modern chefs use pressure cooker for quicker results (and to save fuel costs), the best Al harees is from slow cooking method, the longer the better the results!
3) I learnt this Lamu style Al Harees from my neighbours while in Mombasa. They originally came from Lamu. They are a mix of the local people and Arab descendants - they referred to themselves as 'Vijoho vya Lamu'.
4) One of the amazing things I observed from my neighbours' recipes and cooking was the ability to measure all their ingredients without the use of scales. They 'estimated' all the ingredients but the dish always ends up the right colour/texture//taste/smell. In this recipe, I observed my neighbour measuring the rice using the small Arabic coffee serving cups (Ghida cups/gawa/demitasse). They could fill it up at different levels and then tell you the amount by eye balling it and by the 'feel' of it in their hands. Needless to say, the amount was always right to the gram!!!! I am yet to master the skill so I use my trusted kitchen scales. When I replicated this dish in my own kitchen, I used an estimate of between 30-50g of the broken rice because I could not estimate the exact amount of what I saw!