I was introduced to Harissa when I cooked Borek. It is a chili paste that is used commonly in Libya, Algeria, and Tunisia. So when I started reading about Harissa being Armenia’s national dish, I was confused. This is a sauce not a dish! Well it turns out that Armenian Harissa is not the same thing. Armenian Harissa is a porridge made with stewed chicken and pearl barley. It actually is the furthest think from the Algerian hot sauce.

I’m not a huge porridge fan, however the descriptions of people’s fondness of this dish makes me want to try it.

There is a bit of time to this recipe. First I soak the barley overnight. Then cook the barley for 2 1/2 hours. In another pot I cook a whole chicken and create a broth. The original recipe doesn’t add any aromatic flavors, but I end up thinking it will be too bland so add some onion, garlic, and seasoning to the broth and cook for an hour.


The chicken is tender and ready to be shredded.



Now combined it all back together and reduce a bit more.



To top the Harissa the recipe calls for Berbere. This is a spice mixture that is used commonly in Ethiopia. I have a feeling this may not be a traditional topping, but it sounds interesting so I make it.



The porridge is topped with Berbere and cumin. My friend says the best combo was a generous sprinkle of Berbere, Cumin, and black pepper.



The result is delicious. It is like a warm buttery hug. I can see why the Armenian’s have a passion for this dish and take pride in it.






Original recipe can be found here


  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
  • 1/2 cup ground dried chiles
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  1. Finely grind fenugreek seeds in an electric coffee/spice grinder.
  2. Stir together with remaining ingredients until combined well.



Original recipe can be found here

  • 2½ cups pearl barley
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 whole chicken
  • 1 Onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus extra, to serve
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin, plus extra, to serve
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • Berbere, to serve
  1. Soak barley in water overnight.
  2. Drain pearl barley and rinse under cold running water.
  3. Place in a large saucepan, cover with 12 cups of  water and bring to the boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and cook, adding more water if necessary, for 2½ hours or until water is absorbed and barley is very soft; don’t stir too often as this will cause barley to stick to the pan.
  5. Place the chicken in a stockpot and cover with water.
  6. Add Onion, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
  7. Bring to a boil, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface, then reduce heat to medium and cook for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through and starting to fall apart.
  8. Remove chicken from water and reserve stock. When chicken is cool enough to handle, using your fingers, finely shred the meat, removing and discarding the skin and bones.
  9. Add shredded chicken and 10 cups reserved chicken stock,  to the cooked pearl barley.
  10. Place pan over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until thick.
  11. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, white pepper and cumin.
  12. Just before serving, melt butter in a small pan and cook until a nut-brown colour.
  13. Pour over harissa.
  14. Serve a generous sprinkle of cumin, berbere, and black pepper.

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