In your discovery of Syrian food you gain insight into the world of Arabic cuisine. From country to country there is a kinship among the recipes. There are simple variances in spice, methods and spelling of the food names but the charm, characteristics and rituals of preparation have been unwavering for centuries.
Ghada, Rania and Lema carry their index of recipes in their heads. Ah! found a few recipes that use the same ingredients and are approved by our new neighbourhood cooks!
Most of our North American recipes are prepared for serving for four to six people. Get ready to cook for a crowd.
This is a staple in Syrian food and almost always on the table at some point of the day. The large serving size saves time for the cook who would otherwise be making Kibbe almost every day.
KIBBE DOUGH INGREDIENTS (24 servings)
- 500 g beef, finely ground
- 1 ½ cups fine bulgur
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 5 basil leaves
- 250 g beef, finely ground
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp pomegranate syrup, if available
- ¼ cup raw pine nuts
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 6 cups vegetable oil for frying
INSTRUCTIONS | 15 mins.
- To prepare the stuffing: fry the chopped onions until tender. Add the rest of the stuffing ingredients and cook until meat is brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Wash the bulgur in warm water. Remove and drain in a strainer. Squeeze out as much water as possible.
- To prepare the kibbe dough: In a food processor, grind all the kibbe dough ingredients together until you get a dough-like consistency. You can add a dash of water if the dough gets too sticky. In bowl, knead the dough for a few seconds.
- Place the kibbe on a plate, cover it with a plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 min.
- Form kibbe balls the size of a golf ball. Hold the meat ball in one hand; make a hole in it with the index of your other hand. Widen the hole by turning the kibbe ball and pressing its inside walls gently against your palm. Try to get a thin shell, making sure it is uniformly thick. It is important to moisturize your hands in cold water as you work in order to give a smooth finish to the kibbe.
- Fill the hole with 2 teaspoons of stuffing and close it, forming an oval shape with a pointed end. Set aside on a tray.
- In a deep frying pan, heat the 6 cups of vegetable oil and deep-fry the kibbe in batches until brown.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.
A salad made from parsley, tomatoes, onion, bulgur and seasoned with lemon, salt, and olive oil. There are variations and we like this one that includes pomegranate.
INGREDIENTS (10-12 servings)
- 1 cup bulgar wheat
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 2 cups chopped parsley
- 1 ½ cup fresh mint chopped
- 2 pomegranates, seeded
- 4 shallots, trimmed, thinly sliced
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Place bulgar in a large heat-proof bowl and add boiling water. Soak for 10 minutes and then drain. The bulgar or wheat berries should be soft for the salad. If they are still hard after 10 minutes, let them soak a little longer.
- Add chopped ingredients, seeds, lemon juice and olive oil to the drained bulgar and toss all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Keep in the fridge until serving.
Sesame on one side and pistachio on the other this sophisticated cookie is easy to make and so pretty too!
- ½ cup unsalted butter (room temp.)
- ½ powdered sugar
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ cup white flour
- 1 tsp vinegar
- pinch salt
- dash vanilla powder (any kind)
- 1 cup sesame seeds, roasted
- 1 cup unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- Cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar and mix well.
- Mix in the egg, vanilla and vinegar until everything is well incorporated.
- Finally, add the flour and baking powder along with a dash of salt, let it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Take a piece of the dough as big or as small as you want your cookies
- Flatten the dough into a disc about ¼-inch thick. The thinner the cookie is, the more crunchy it will be.
- Press in a bowl of roasted sesame seeds to coat one side.
- Press the other side in the pistachio pieces.
- Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes until bottoms start to brown.
Some people will compare the taste and texture of Kunafa to a cheese danish. There is a balance of sweet and tartness from the cheese that makes this a favourite dessert for every day and times of celebration.
- 1 1-kg bag kunafa pastry
- ½ lb butter
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup plain water
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice & rose water
- ¼ cup pistachios
- 1 lb soft cheese
- Start by mixing the sugar, plain water and lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, let simmer to a syrup-like consistency.
- Remove from heat and add rose water.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- In a large bowl, gently loosen kunafa dough, mix it well with butter. Place half of the mixture in a 9-inch round pan or a 9×13 pan, lightly press it down.
- Spread the cheese in an even layer, cover it with the remaining kunafa dough and bake it until it is golden brown 30 to 45 minutes.
- Pour the syrup on the kunafa and decorate it with pistachios.
Syrian Food is thought to be one of the oldest and most traditional cuisines on the planet. It also has a pretty good track record for being a healthy diet. There is very little processed food in the Syrian diet, especially if the food is Halal. Many of the dishes are vegetarian or plant based. However, there are recipes that call for deep-frying. Like any healthy diet, moderation with some of the less healthful ingredients or cooking methods is the key.