Habia is a delicious Middle Eastern grain, similar to barley, that is versatile and can be served as side or main dish. I love it for the chewy texture and slightly nutty flavor. Not to mention it has many health benefits- vitamins, minerals and is fiber rich.
This recipe flavors the habia with onion, turmeric and salt. Cooking it in broth, any variety works, can also give it an extra flavor kick. But if you don’t have broth on hand, water works well too. So overall, it’s a low fuss dish that is quick to arrive to the table and uses pantry staples. Habia can be found at most Middle Eastern grocery stores or bought online.
Although I am a diehard rice fan, when Nana would drop off habia to our house for dinner, it was an enthusiastically welcomed alternative to rice. Along with the habia drop off may be jajeek (cucumber, mint, yogurt salad) and some cooked broccoli or another vegetable variety. As a kid…ok as an adult too…I just love the texture of habia and can’t stop myself from eating spoon after spoon of it. My mom now makes this for my nieces, and it also happens to be my niece’s Noelle’s favorite too.
In these time of uncertainty (COVID era circa 2020), thinking about habia and these memories brings me so much comfort, and almost relief. Memories with family and friends are so valuable. Call your people and connect with them, maybe cook something you crave from your childhood. Take advantage of this time – find comfort in the small things that often a busy lifestyle can cloud. We are all in this together. Time to make habia.
- 1 cup habia
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tbsp turmeric
- 2 cups water/broth*
- 1 medium onion, diced
- Heat a pot on medium heat. Place olive oil in pot and warm until the olive oil starts to glisten.
- Add onions to pot and cook until translucent.
- Add water/broth to the same pot. Mix in turmeric and salt into pot and stir until combined.
- Add habia to pot and stir until combined. Increase heat to high, and allow liquid to come to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover to cook for about 20 minutes.
- The habia is done once the liquid is absorbed. The habia grain should be tender but not mushy.
- Adjust salt to taste if needed and then enjoy!