Shish Barak

 It was several years
ago as I was flipping the pages of Arabesque that I came across this
interesting recipe for a new style shish barak. Originally shish barak is
homemade dough filled with meat and plotted into a yogurt bath much like
Turkish manti. I became quite taken with the recipe and just had to make it.
This dish quickly became my husband’s favorite dish. Over the years I have tweaked it a bit and made
it work for me. I do not make it that often as anyone who has worked with fillo
knows that it’s a labor
of love but hey it’s Ramadan and he asked for it so I spent the evening frying,
stuffing, rolling and baking my golden little heart shaped pastries.
10 fillo
pastry sheets (unfreeze for a few hours before use and then lay a damp towel
over at all times or they will not be usable)
1 pound ground lamb
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon garlic, diced
1-1/2 teaspoons dried mint
1-1/2 cup yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 small onion, chopped in food processor
Dash of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
Salt and pepper to tasting
1/2 tablespoon allspice
1. In a 9-inch skillet on medium heat add sunflower oil and
meat, cook thoroughly. Add onions, cinnamon, allspice, molasses, salt and
pepper allowing cooking for a few minutes. Make a well in the center add pine
nuts and toast until golden.
2. Cut each fillo sheet in half. Place the long end of the
sheet towards you. Place meat mixture towards bottom leaving enough room on all
sides to roll (meat in this should be like a cigar amount and shape).  Roll gently up, when finished coil into a
heart shape. Then place on a baking sheet.
4. Pre-heat oven to 400F. 
Brush tops with butter and bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden.
5. In a medium sized mixing bowl add yogurt, olive oil,
garlic, and mint. Mix. Place on top of baked shish baraks or serve in an
individual serving dish.
Yields: 4 servings
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Saudi Snack Store



I always want to take so many pictures of things to show you all around Saudi but it’s really hard. People hate cameras here and you find it extremely difficult to ever take any pictures even in a small shop like this people tend to think you want to steal their idea or have pictures of them, weird I know. What is really odd is that as much as people hate cameras you always see everyone with their
phones taking pictures and making videos. It’s kind of incognito and makes everyone feel more comfortable I guess.

My husband snapped these pictures for me with his IPhone and I hate camera pictures they are so fuzzy but it’s hard to tote around the Canon especially since people would make some huge deal I am sure. I wish I could get a camera that did not look like one yet took awesome pictures. Something like the CIA uses or something lol I mean I only want to take pictures of stores and items to show you all for crying out loud what is the big deal?
So here you have it a few snaps of a snack store we have up the road from our house. This store is decorated in the traditional Saudi manner like a mud house with drapery hung around. The hand weaved circles you see hanging on the wall are what people ate on at one time and many still do. All of the patterns are common for the Najdi area. In a store like this you will find dates, cookies, tea and coffees all being old fashion Saudi products.
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Shorba Dajaj

I am a soup person I would happily live on soup, salad and bread forever those are my favorites after all. This recipe is at the top of my soup list and I could go for it anytime but it especially popular throughout the month of Ramadan. Muslims usually break their fast with sometime of soup. In Saudi its Quaker soup, in Algerian shorba frik, Moroccan harira and The Emirates have shorba dajaj which is just a simple chicken noodle style of soup.

If you have fresh chicken stock on hand use 4 cups then 4 cups of water if not you can use 8 cups of water and 4 chicken bouillon cubes. Also choose your favorite pieces of the chicken or you can use mixed. I usually use chicken bread and chicken legs so my entire family is happy. Make sure to always use chicken with skin and bones, that where the taste comes from after all.
1 cup cilantro, fresh, cleaned and chopped
6 pieces of chicken (bones and skin)
1 large white onion, diced
8 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes (I use Maggi)
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups dried vermicelli
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
Juice from 1 lemon
1 lemon quartered for serving
1. In a stock pot on high heat add water, chicken cubes, onion, cilantro, salt and pepper. Bring to a full boil then reduce to low-medium, cover and allow cooking for 1 hour.
2. After the hour is up in a small skillet on medium heat add butter and vermicelli, cooking until golden. Add cardamom, mixing and allow to sauté for 5 minutes. Place mixture and lemon juice into shorba, mix and allow cooking for a remaining 30 minutes. Serve hot with lemon wedges. 
Yields: 8
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