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from: Eastern Africa | cooking method: boiling-simmering

Boko-Boko

In Eastern Africa, Boko-Boko (or Boku-Boku) is the name for a dish more commonly known by its Arabic name, Harees (or Harisah). It is a sort of porridge made from shredded meat, bulghur wheat or cracked wheat (as is used in Tabbouleh), and spices. Some versions are flavored with sugar or honey and milk; other versions use lemon juice. In Africa it is most popular among Swahili people of Arab ancestry. Harees was brought to Eastern Africa hundreds of years ago by Arab settlers; it is still a popular dish in the Middle East.

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Harees (or Harisah) should not be confused with Northern Africa's Harissa sauce or paste. (There are several variant spelling of both names, some of which are the same.) Harissa Sauce (or Paste) is a hot sauce made with hot chile peppers, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil. It is usually served with couscous, and is also used to in soups and stews.

Is Boko-Boko a reduplication? See the Coupé-Coupé recipe.


Richard Francis Burton

Boko-Boko is the roast beef--the plat de resistance--of the Eastern and African Arab

Between 1856 and 1859 Richard Francis Burton traveled from Zanzibar to Lake Tanganyika and back. In The Lake Regions of Central Africa: A Picture of Exploration (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860; reprinted by Dover Publications, and by Scholarly Press) he described Arab cuisine in Africa, including Boko-Boko. By "roast beef", he means "the national dish".

The older [Arab] residents [at Unyanyembe] have learned to moderate their appetites. They eat but twice a day--after sunrise, and at noon. The midday meal concluded they confine themselves to chewing tobacco or the dried coffee of the Karagwah [mountains]. They avoid strong meats, especially beef and game, which are considered heating and bilious, remaining satisfied with light dishes, omelets, and pillaus, barisah, firni, and curded milk; the less they eat the more likely they are to escape fever.

Harísah, in Kisawahili [the Swahili language] "boko-boko," is the roast beef--the plat de resistance--of the Eastern and African Arab. It is a kind of pudding made with finely-shredded meat, boiled with flour of wheat, rice, or holcus, to the consistence of a thick paste, and eaten with honey or sugar.

Firni, an Indian word, is synonymous with the muhallibah of Egypt, a thin jelly of milk and water, honey, rice flour, and spice, which takes the place our substantial [British] northern rice-pudding.

(Chapter X - We Enter Unyamwezi, the Far-Famed Land of the Moon)


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