This deeply satisfying dish of spiced meat and creamy wheat berries is most often made with lamb, but it’s particularly delicious when made with chicken. This recipe first appeared in SAVEUR Issue #140 along with Anissa Helou’s story Breaking the Fast.
Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Soups and Stews
- 1 1⁄2 cups wheat berries, soaked in water overnight and drained
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 6 tbsp. ghee or clarified butter
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/4″ cubes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 (2″) piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 stick cinnamon, broken in half
- 1 1⁄2 tbsp. bzar (Emirati spice mix)
- 2 tsp. Aleppo pepper
- 2 green Thai chiles, stemmed and minced
- 1 plum tomato, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
- Fried onions, for garnish
- Bring wheat berries, rice, salt, and 10 cups water to a boil in an 8-qt. saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until wheat berries and rice are very tender and broken down, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp. ghee in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; season chicken with salt and pepper, add to pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned all over, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, onion, ginger, and cinnamon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add spice mix, 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper, chiles, and tomato, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add 3 cups water and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, heat remaining ghee and Aleppo pepper in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and set spiced ghee aside.
- Working in batches, transfer wheat berries, rice, and any cooking liquid to a blender and puree until smooth; return to pan and stir in chicken mixture. Return saucepan to medium heat, and cook, stirring, to meld flavors, about 10 minutes.
- To serve, ladle stew into serving bowls and top with fried onions; drizzle spiced ghee over top and serve hot.