A Tribute To Syria....

Recently we were blessed to welcome Syrian families in our area, Toronto Canada. During the time to help them settle and show around they would invite us to have meals with them, and boy! Was the food simple and delicious! This made me look into their cuisine. Every region or part of Syria had something different yet mostly similar. With the ongoing war, they have lost a lot of history, people and life; the one thing I learned from them was how they want to preserve their food and culture which brought them the comfort and humility.. Alhamdulillah, Thank God that Canada is multicultural and most of the ingredients we are used to using are available, sometimes a little far from our homes but still available.
Here are some of the comforting dishes we got to taste by our friends.

Lentil Soup ( Shorbet Adas) recipe by Khattar

1 cup red lentils
1 potato, chopped
1 onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
3 cups water
200 grams ground meat, cooked ( chicken, beef or goat)
1 stock cube ( I think she used maggi chicken)
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
You can substitute the stock cube with chicken broth or I use salt and white pepper.

*  Halal Maggi stock cubes which are mostly chicken flavored are available at South Asian or Middle Eastern stores.


Warm the oil and saute the garlic for a few seconds, then add the onions and cook till soft. Add the potatoes and lentils, give it a stir and add the water and the stock cube, cover the pot with a lid and bring it to boil. Lower the heat and let it cook till the potatoes are soft. Remove from the heat.Using a stick blender blend the soup. Add the cooked ground meat and simmer on low till well heated. Check seasoning and serve.

Moussaka recipe by Hind

1 cup chickpeas. soaked overnight ( you can use 1 can of chickpeas)
2 long eggplants, slit in half and slice into thick pieces
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 tomatoes, ground or use half can of crushed tomatoes
1 tbslp tomato paste
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1/2 green pepper,julienned
1 tsp paprika pd
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste or 1 stock cube
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 cup water
2 Tbslp olive oil (extra virgin) 

For the eggplant
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
Mix the above ingredients into the eggplant place it on a baking tray and slightly broil the eggplant till lightly browned on both sides.

 Drain the water from the soaked chickpeas and add some fresh water in a pot, add the chickpeas and 1 teaspoon salt and boil till tender.

Warm the olive oil and saute the garlic. Add the onions and cook till soft. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, cayenne pepper, salt, dried mint and paprika. Cook till the gravy is thick.
Add the chickpeas and 1 cup water, cook for about a minute and add the peppers. Cook for a minute or two. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with pita, can be eaten cold or warm.

*If you are using crushed tomatoes can you can omit on the tomato paste.

Tabouleh

1 bunch curly parsley, washed and chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint ( you can use 2 tablespoons of dried mint)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup burghul, soaked in warm water and then drained
1 small cucumber,chopped
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt.

Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and when ready to serve add the last three. Mix well and serve.


Usually meals in the Middle East are served with a thick yogurt called labne. You can make your own by straining any yogurt in a cheesecloth overnight.


Green Beans recipe by Rahma

Chop the green beans.

Heat 1-2 tblsp of oil, add 1 clove roughly chopped garlic and stir fry the green beans. Add ½ cup liquid stock, cook covered till the water reduced.  If you have the spice powder add ½ tsp. Serve hot.



Oozie recipe by Rahma

Oozie is a festive dish, usually served on occasions like weddings or get together. It is served in layers- rice, ground meat, chicken and sprinkled with roasted pine nuts. Simple yet a process.... There are many versions to it, I'm giving what I was served and the recipe as shared. 


Chicken Layer

1 Chicken cut in ten pieces 

3 cups of chicken broth



Cook the chicken in  the broth till tender. Keep it warm.

The broth can be used for cooking the rice.

Rice Layer
1 cup rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp allspice pd ( you can get it at bulk stores or middle eastern stores)

Bring the broth to a boil and to it add the allspice and washed rice, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook till rice is tender.Keep on low heat till thoroughly done. Keep the rice on lowest heat to keep it warm or in a warm oven.

For the meat layer
1 pound ground meat ( beef or mutton)
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp allspice pd
1 tblsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon pd
1/2 cup green peas

In a pan melt the butter and add the meat, brown it and add the green peas.Cover till the peas are soft and liquid has evaporated, add the chicken broth, allspice pd and cinnamon pd. Cook till the broth reduces to half.

Assembly
Spread a layer of rice on a serving plate,pour the meat layer on the rice. Arrange the chicken pieces on the rice and meat, sprinkle with pine nuts. Serve with the thick yogurt, khubz ( Arabic pita) and salata.


Salata
1 bunch curly parsley, chopped
1 cucumber, cut in small pieces
1 tomato, cut in small pieces
1 lemon juice

Mix all the above and serve.




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