It is customary to eat lentils in a time of mourning, based on the food that Yaakov cooked when Avraham died. (Another customary mourning meal is a hardboiled egg with a loaf of bread, which symbolizes the circle of life.)
Rice and lentils is a popular Syrian dish. It’s often served as a weeknight meal along with jibben or a light fish, but that’s not why we’re posting it now; it is a one-pot meal and is it’s our custom to eat this on the night before Tisha b’Av (which is tomorrow!). Serve it with some plain yogurt and you have a pretty balanced (and simple) one-pot meal. Serve it alongside a million other dishes, like pizza, jibben, salad, knishes, sambusak, etc, and you have yourself a typical Syrian dairy meal. Continue reading
When Ricky gave me a package of phyllo dough that he had defrosted and forgot to use, I brought it over to my sister’s house so we could make baklava together.
While looking through a Syrian cookbook, I came across a dutch oven recipe for hameen, a dish that required a whole chicken, 5 hours, and long-grain white rice. It sounded delicious, but I definitely had to switch it up a little bit. This recipe is pretty simple and the ingredients are all really basic, and you should have most, if not all of them in your house already. Continue reading
We taught you how to roll and freeze the yebra, and I’m sure you were eager to know how to actually cook at eat it…well here’s one way to do it!
Yebra is definitely a Syrian favorite. We eat it with sweet sauce, sour sauce, meat filled, and with rice and chick peas inside (a pareve version). Different families prefer it different ways. This is not how our mom makes it, but it’s a really yummy version with apricots, one of my favorites.
These take a long time to cook, so if you’re making it for Friday night dinner, make it on Thursday night and reheat it before dinner Friday.
Update: after you read this post and roll your yebra, go ahead and cook it!
Yebra, or stuffed grape leaves, is a traditional Syrian food that can be prepared in a few different ways. But before you can eat it, you have to actually stuff and roll the grape leaves with hashu (there’s a pareve version, too). To make a whole 16-oz. jar of grape leaves, you need to double the hashu recipe.
I actually used a slightly different recipe for hashu. This one is from a cookbook called Deal Delights, a pretty old book with traditional Syrian recipes.
Bizir is the Arabic name for toasted pumpkin seeds. I’m not sure what the correct English spelling is; it can just as easily be bizid or bizit. There isn’t really a letter in the English language to substitute for the sound I’m trying to make, but it’s pretty much a combination of those three.
Anyway, bizir is something I grew up watching people around me eating. As a kid, it’s impossible to crack open the shell to leave an intact inside, so sometimes I would get frustrated and eat the whole thing (not a good idea). But now I’ve gotten the hang of it, and it’s a light and fun snack. My family often pairs bizir with dessert and after-dinner tea, but it can just as easily be a watching TV snack on its own.
I bought some giant zucchinis at the farmer’s market last week and wanted to make something special with them. This recipe gets its delicious flavor from butter, and is traditionally made with long grain white rice. I made a healthier version with less butter and brown rice. It had a delicious, nutty flavor. The recipe calls for slender zucchini, which probably would have been better than the fat ones I found. Make sure you scoop them out very well so the zucchini cook through. Continue reading
Remember when we made mehshi kusa and hollowed out all of that squash and zucchini? You didn’t think we’d just waste those precious insides, did you? Of course not. We popped those insides in the freezer for later use. And then gave them to our mom so she could make kusa jibben for lunch.
Kusa Jibben is a classic Syrian dish; kusa, as you know, means squash, and jibben is cheese. So basically it’s squash and cheese.
Mehshi kusa (koo-SAA) is a traditional Syrian dish. In order to stuff the squash, you first need to hollow them out with a melon baller. Ideally the shells will be very thin. After hollowing out the vegetables, you stuff them with hashu and cook them in a Middle-Eastern-style sauce.
Hashu is used in many Syrian dishes, mostly as a stuffing, and sometimes added to dishes as meatballs. Soaked rice is mixed with meat and spices and can be stuffed into just about any vegetable – this is called mehshi (MECH-she).
We use it for potatoes, eggplants, squash and zucchini, onions, cabbage, tomato, grape leaves, etc.