Syria officially also known as the Syrian Arab Republic is located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Asia. It is land of high mountains, deserts, and fertile plains with most diverse ethnic groups including majority Turkmens, Circassians Greeks, Assyrians, Armenians, Mandaeans, Syrian Arabs and Kurds.
Unfortunately Syria has most recently been known for its enduring civil war that has caused the displacement of much of the population.
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Most Popular Syrian Dishes
The traditional cuisine of Syria is a blend of its ethnic diversity derived from different cultures as the land is occupied by diverse groups of multicultural inhabitants. Here we enlist some of the most famous a must try dishes from traditional Syrian cuisine.
Yabraq is a dish consisting of grape leaves stuffed with minced lamb meat, boiled in water and lemon juice.
Medium or small sized grape leaves are boiled prior to use to make them ready for rolling, and the minced lamb meat is seasoned with salt and pepper, and combined with boiled rice.
The stuffing is tightly rolled into the grape leaves and cooked slowly for two hours on a low heat in just enough water to cover it, lemon juice, garlic cloves and salt. The end product should look like cigars, which are then served with yogurt and Arabic flatbread.
Muhammara is a dip popular throughout the Middle East that contains roasted bell peppers, finely ground walnuts, garlic, lemon juice and breadcrumbs. Additional ingredients include pomegranate molasses, red pepper flakes, cumin, smoked paprika and olive oil. It is typically eaten with flatbread.
Kibbeh Bil Sanieh
Kibbeh Bil Sanieh simply means Kibbeh baked in a tray. Kibbeh being the term for a range of dishes made with the main ingredient of spiced ground meat, onions and grain.
The Kibbeh has three layers, with the top and bottom made from beef and bulgur, and the middle one made up of roasted pine nuts, salt and pepper and sautéed ground beef. It is baked in the oven for 40-45 minutes and most often served with yogurt.
Kebab Halabi comprises of skewered grilled meat served with yogurt and tomato sauce on top, served with rice. The major ingredients are ground beef or lamb mixed with vegetables, onions, nuts, spices mix, onions and salt. The spicy mixture is grilled after being wrapped around skewers in long patty shapes.
Fattoush is a bread salad made by mixing different vegetables including chopped tomatoes, greens, bell peppers, radish, celery, parsley and mint leaves with pita bread.
The name Fattoush is derived from the Arabic word ‘fattat’ meaning flatbread. Salt and pepper, lemon juice, olive oil and sumac are used to garnish the dish.
Sujuk (or Sucuk) is a delicious dry, spiced sausage consumed in countries throughout the Middle East. It is typically made of either beef, lamb or horse meat.
Dolma is a dish consisting of stuffed leaves, much like Yabraq. Dolma originates from Azerbaijan, as the word Dolma in Azerbaijani means “filled” or “filled up”.
Dolma is made from finely chopped and marinated meat combined with chopped greens, rice, salt and pepper. The marinated meat in stuffing can also be replaced by vegetables, seafood or even fruits. Dolma is often served as a food of celebrations, traditionally brides used to make the dish for the groom before the wedding.
Samaka Harra is a dish consisting of filleted fish cooked in a spicy tahini sauce. The tahini paste is made from crushed roasted sesame seeds, but tends to be bought premade and added to the fish before baking.
Ful Medames is a common Syrian breakfast which is essentially a stew made from fava beans, chickpeas and spices, often with a fried egg on top. It is served with warm pita bread and a slice of lemon.
Ful Medames is originally an Egyptian dish but it has become popular in Syria and throughout the Middle East.
Thin sheets of filo pastry are used for wrapping nuts and sugar syrups or honey with dash of lime juice. After cooling, the syrup is added to finely cut walnuts and mixed well. Pistachios and nuts are used for decorating the top of baklava.
Camel meat is consumed in many Middle Eastern countries, as is the famous Camel Burger. Camel meat is considered to be one of the leanest red meats available. With a little bit of a sweet aftertaste, camel meat is very similar to beef in terms of flavor and texture.
Basbousa is sticky, sweet, moist and a favorite traditional dessert in Syria. Main ingredients include nuts, self-raising flour, plain yogurt, coconut (unsweetened) and caster sugar. The ingredients are combined and baked for 35-40 minutes.
A special type of hot sugar syrup is added as topping which gives it a sticky texture after cooling.
Shawarma is a popular Syrian street food which is prepared using spiced chicken breast. The meat is positioned on a metal skewer and is rotated on a vertical grill. While the chicken cooks, thin slices are cut from the skewer using a very long, sword-like knife.
The meat slices are then placed in homemade bread and accompanied by pickled cucumbers and garlic cream. The invention of shawarma dates back to the Levant and the Ottoman Empire. It was prepared using lamb or mutton initially, but today it can be made with chicken, turkey, beef or veal.
Tulumba, also known as Pomba, Bamiyeh or Balaḥ ash-Shām, is a deep-fried dessert.
It prepared using an unleavened dough lump, which is shaped as a small ovoid and includes ridges lengthways. It is shaped with the help of a pastry bag or cookie press, which has a fitting end part.
Tulumba is initially deep-fried to give this dessert a golden colour, and then sugar-sweet syrup is added on top while it’s still hot.
Qatayef is a kind of sweet dumpling that is stuffed with cream or nuts (typically a mixture of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and raisins). Other ingredients include unsalted cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon.
This Arab delicacy is typically consumed during the month of Ramadan. Some people also define it as a folded pancake. It is usually accompanied by a hot, sweet syrup or, occasionally, honey.
Bamia is an okra and beef stew popular throughout the Middle East. The meat and okra are cooked together with tomato paste, spices, water and pomegranate molasses to name a few of the ingredients. They are stewed in the tomato sauce until the meat becomes tender and the sauce thickens.