Syrian dishes and culture are as rich and varied as its people and their deep history within the land. As a result of having been occupied by the Arabs, Persians and Ottoman Turks in the past, Syrians have adopted dishes from other cuisines. A few would be shish kebab, stuffed zucchini, and stuffed grape leaves from Turkey. Dishes like fattoush and hummus from Lebanon were adapted and Syrians truly made these dishes exquisitely their own. Here are just a few of the must-try traditional foods you can find in Syria:
Its origins are from Azerbaijan where the word means “filled or filled up”. Yalanji contains a rice filling, greens and a little salt and pepper. Then, you roll the mix tightly in pickled swiss chard before adding chicken stock and lemon juice over top to enhance their juiciness. Variations include stuffing made of vegetables, seafood, or even fruit.
One thing you’ll notice about traditional Syrian foods is that they sure do love stuffing things into grape leaves. Yabraq is another one of those dishes. Similar to a dolma, but with a few changes in the cooking method. Initially, the grape leaves start as frozen, which are boiled to be ready for rolling. The stuffing consists of minced lamb meat, liyeh (sheep or lamb tail fat), salt, pepper and boiled Egyptian rice. You tightly roll the meat stuffing into the grape leaves. Then, you slow-cook it in lemon juice, garlic cloves, water, and salt for two hours on low heat.
Kibbeh bil sanieh is a three layer kibbeh dish. Instead of frying, people bake this in the oven. The top and bottom layer are a blend of beef and bulgur. The middle layer consists of sautéed ground beef and pine nuts. Kibbeh is a traditional dish of the Levant region, and especially in Syria. Although, Brazil has a variation that uses cheese.
A very popular Syrian grilled meat dish, kebab halabi are skewered and grilled kebabs. People serve it with a Syrian tomato sauce and strained yogurt. The kebabs are made of ground meat (usually beef or lamb) mixed with nuts, seven spice mix, onions, and other vegetables and salt. Then, the mix is wrapped around skewers in a long patty shape and grilled over open fire. This grilled saucy kebab is served on top of vermicelli or flavored rice.
Fattoush is a type of Lebanese-derived Syrian salad made of tomatoes, bell peppers, radish, celery, parsley, mint leaves, and flatbread. In fact, the name fattoush actually comes from the Arabic fattat meaning “flatbread”. It is topped with a dressing made of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and sumac. The secret behind the salad’s authentic and alternating sweet and sour taste.
Also originally from Lebanon, but now made with a Syrian twist to it is the Syrian spiced fish dish known as samaka harra. The dish is made by taking a cleaned and filleted fish and baking it in a spicy tomato sauce made from garlic, onions, pepper, salt, and tomatoes. The cooked meal is absolutely melt-in-your-mouth delicious that will leave you wanting several helpings.
Ful medames are basically fava beans, fresh tomatoes, and parsley, mixed with generous amounts of lemon juice, olive oil, and tahini. This famous sauce basically consists of roasted sesame seeds, olive oil and salt, finely ground to a paste. Originating in Egypt, ful medames is a common breakfast meal in Syria.
Syrians are also famous for their cheeses, and jibbneh mashallale is one of their very popular string cheeses. Syrians also make cookies filled with crushed dates mixed with butter called ka’ak to accompany their jibbneh mashallale.
Muhammara is a red pepper and walnut dip originating from the Middle East. The dip is from roasted bell peppers and walnuts and it goes perfectly well with Arab flatbread. Finely ground red bell peppers, walnut, garlic, lemon juice, bread crumbs, pomegranate molasses, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin, and olive oil contribute to this special dip. While the peppers add the spice, the pomegranate molasses gives the dip a tangy taste. This flavor-filled dip is a part of every meal in Syria and a must try!
Baklava is a popular dessert in Syria from nuts, sugar syrup and filo dough. Thought to be originally from the Ottoman Turks , Syrian baklava involves adding a dash of lime juice to the sugar syrup. A truly delectable dessert, you’ll feel tempted to eat it all in one sitting, but save some for tomorrow as baklava stays fresh for up to one week when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Okay, all of this talk about food has made us hungry, so what do you say we end this article for now and go get some great Syrian food to eat? Until next time, Sahtayn!
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