All posts filed under: Syria

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Labneh

For much of December I found myself being entertained rather than entertaining. It was a nice, relaxing way to spend two weeks but I find myself – even now that we’re well into the New Year – looking for a way to make someone else feel special and cared for.  After some recipe rummaging, I had my answer: Labneh. Soup might comfort, jelly might wibble-wobble, but Labneh delights. This Middle Eastern thickened yogurt appetizer seems oh so fancy but is really a set-it-and-forget-it kind of affair – exactly what I need to pay it forward during a busy time of year. It’s mild and tangy – but if you use full fat yogurt, very creamy and indulgent in a… healthy way (it’s made with yogurt, after all). Does your mind ever wander when you cook? Mine does. As the yogurt strained in the cool, dark refrigerator I considered the people who came in my life for no more than a season – perhaps a brilliant season, perhaps a painful one. I reminded myself that letting them go is a gift. Ahhhh, what a gift for my heart. …

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Monday Meal Review: Syria

“Want to help me make the kebabs?” I asked Ava, gesturing toward the pile of long, metal skewers, the bowl of sour cherries swimming in water, and the ground lamb meat, spiced with baharat. I tried to imagine what this spread looked like in a three year-old’s mind. Dangerous, slimy, raw. I cringed a little internally, knowing she wouldn’t want to help. Knowing this would push every squeamish part of her mind. But then she spoke. “Sure!” she smiled and slipped her hand into the cold, wet bowl of cherries. A moment later she plucked one out. “Can I eat it?” I thought about the sour flavor. How outrageous the slippery flesh would taste to her young taste buds (I once read that children have more taste buds than adults). “No… let’s wait until we can eat the cherries with the meat.” I replied, thinking it would be her best shot at loving it. “Okay!” she chirped, agreeably. We took turns, me threading the small meatballs onto the skewer, she sliding on the cherries. Soon, this wasn’t …

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Baharat

I’m craving a little excitement. A little spice. In my younger years, I might have stayed out all night clubbing, I might have found a new crush,  or I might have packed my bags and drove off into the sunset without checking a map. Even worse, I might have done all three. Today, I think, I’ll settle for something simpler. Something more manageable. Baharat is a popular Middle Eastern spice blend which often makes its way into kebabs and other meat preparations. There are countless recipes from Turkey, all the way down to Iran, but one thing is for certain: in Syria, you can count on a hefty amount of black pepper to give your meat delicate heat. All you need for this recipe is a coffee grinder or spice mill and a handful of spices. I say double the recipe and give some to a friend. It’s the perfect “thinking of you” gift. Who knows, they might be looking for the Spiced Life, too… or, at the very least, a little sparkle… Ingredients: 1/4 …

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Syrian Lentils

There’s a whole head of garlic up in these cyber pages. By now you should be able to smell it through the screen. I know. You have boys to kiss. Important business meetings and no Altoids. You don’t have time to smell like garlic. But indulge me for a moment, please. We’ve eaten a whole head of garlic on this Adventure before, as with our Lebanese garlic sauce Toum, but this time our garlic is making friends with lentils and Swiss chard. They bubble and steam up together, considerably mellowing out the flavor. To round out the flavor, there’s a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a splash of pomegranate syrup, and a pile of cilantro. (To my cilantro haters: don’t worry, the offending leaves get waaay cooked down. If you can eat Salsa, you can eat these lentils). The result is a lovely warm lentil side dish or dip (best enjoyed with homemade pita bread). I even like it cold, with salad. And it’s definitely better the next day, although you might want to “refresh …

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Syrian Lamb kebabs with Sour Cherries | Kebab Karaz

I can almost hear it; the hiss and sizzle of grills waking up from their long winter naps. It’s warm in Oklahoma and we’re ready to move our kitchen outside, into the sparkling sun. Today’s inspiration comes from Syria and the pucker of sour cherries, which will be in season sometime in the next few weeks, depending where in the world you live. Syrian Lamb Kebabs with Cherries can be made two different ways. The first is easy – you string up the meat along with the sour cherries. The second involves creating a gravy of sorts with the sour cherries and serving the whole shebang on a platter over pita bread. The latter is more of a winter dish, so we’re going all summer, all the way. The distinctive seasoning in these kebabs is baharat (we’ll have that recipe posted very soon), but if you don’t have time to make any, add some pepper, allspice, and cinnamon, plus a pinch of clove and nutmeg  to this recipe and you’ll be good to go. Makes …

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Menu: Syria

“If your friend is honey, don’t lick him all.” Syrian Proverb If I’m going to be honest, I’d have to say I’m not exactly sure what this proverb means (or, more to the point, I’m not sure I should be visualizing my friends as honey bears). My theory: the proverb is not literal (so few are), but it does teach that good things should not be taken advantage of. Lest we lick them all up. But what a vivid picture the Syrians paint to teach this message. The food is just as vivid. There are bright punches of garlic (an entire head in our lentil recipe), an entire bunch of cilantro, and as many sour cherries as a girl can stand. So let’s get vivid. All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Syrian Lentils [Recipe] An addicting (and vegan) blend of lentils, swiss chard, and entire head of garlic. Dont’ forget the lemon juice, pomegranate syrup and cilantro. A big punch of flavor for very little effort. Lamb kebabs with Sour …

Lattakia Beach. Photo by Taras Kalapun.

About the food of Syria

Oh, Syria. This wedge-shaped land spreads from the west, where she dips delicately into the Mediterranean sea, back to the east, up, over the mountains, all the way to the Iraqi border. Along the way, her cliffs and canyons smooth out into hot desert and scrubby grasslands. Lost, towards the south, is the ancient city of Damascus, quite possibly the world’s oldest city according to National Geographic.  While Damascus has all the allure of a teeming city and world heritage site, the fun fact that stuck with me the most was that the buses don’t stick to their scheduled stops in Damascus. They just drop you where you want to get off, as long as it’s on their route. Makes sense to me. This week we explore Syria’s love for bold flavors, like garlic, pomegranate, sour cherry, and more. Of course, traditional Middle Eastern favorites are everywhere, such as hummus, tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel… all enjoyed with a bite of homemade pita bread (and all, I might add, previously made for other Global Tables – simply follow the …