Dumplings of the Levant

2012 has arrived, just a few hours ago! Time flies! So much has happened in the past year in my life and around the world. In the Levant, we’ve seen uprisings, unrest, mass murder and so much bloodshed. People in that part of the world were finally able to stand up for their rights after decades of oppression, corruption and torture. They wanted freedom, something we take for granted at times. They are paying for it with their lives today.

I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t discuss politics on my blog, but how can I not? The cuisine I write about, the culture and traditions I share all come from that part of the world. I have a lot of family and friends back home that are uncertain what the future holds for them. I am hopeful however that the dictators will continue to tumble all around the world and that justice will prevail. I hope my people in the Levant find peace and harmony in the coming year. I am looking forward to this New Year on a personal level and much broader. In a way, I have started my own revolution in going after my dreams without yielding to anything. I feel like I have finally found my voice. It’s such a great feeling when you know you are on the right track. I wish that for all of you, my readers.

I called Teta (My lovely grandma) earlier today to wish her a Happy New Year, as they are 8 hours ahead of us. When I asked her what her New Year’s Resolution was, she said; “I want to get you married!” Teta is now officially obsessed with the whole marriage thing! She wants great grand kids and has made it very clear! I think to myself at times, doesn’t she have some flowers to water or something!? Well, she is the most beautiful flower and I love her to death, but I don’t think I will fulfill her wish anytime soon.

As for aunt Salwa who is in this video with me making Sheeshbarak, she is one of the most loving human beings I know. This is her recipe today and she makes the best Sheeshbarak in the world! In the summers when I would visit them back home, aunt Salwa always made the most elaborate meals. She's cooked Yam in the past, stuffed meatballs with cheese in bechamel sauce, and so many dishes that are not familiar to the Levant and what we grew up eating. She even invited us to turkey every summer, which no one ever makes back home. She is an amazing aunt and I love her very much! I hope you enjoy our video! I am really shy in front of a camera but I am trying to overcome this! Happy New Year!


1 pound ground beef
3 small onions
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup crumbled pecans
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 cups of flour
2 cups of water
5 cups of plain yogurt
2 cups Jameed (dried yogurt)
1/4 cup olive oil
Cilantro and garlic (Optional)

- First prepare the dough by adding the water to the flour gradually after adding a teaspoon of salt. Let the mixture sit in a cool place for at least 30 minutes.
- Prepare the stuffing by frying the finely chopped onions in a little bit of olive oil. When light brown, add the ground beef and spices until fully cooked.
- On the side, fry the pine nuts and pecans as shown in the video. Mix everything together and stuff the dough making them into little dumplings.
- Here you have the choice of baking them first or directly adding them to your boiling yogurt sauce.
- To make the sauce, you need to use Jameed (substitute plain yogurt if you don’t have Jameed) which can be found at specialty grocery stores. You will need to soak two cups in water from the night before. Dilute with more water, add a few cups of plain yogurt and allow to boil while continuously stirring, otherwise your sauce will reduce into small chunks of flavorless boiled yogurt. You have to stir until it starting boiling.
- Add your dumplings and allow to cook for about 8 minutes. The Sheeshbarak is now ready!
- If you wanted to add the Cilantro and the garlic, puree them, sauté in a little butter then add to the sauce right before serving.


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