A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Cuisine time

(Ok, this must be the very first time I feel like writing about local cuisine, I guess because I’m hungry or something.)

(random image of the internet of shushbarak)

Today, my grandmother made one of very favorite dishes in the world, Shushbarak, also called “Taeyet il Yahoodi” which literally translates to “the helmet of the Jew” (the little stuffed pies really do look like helmets). It is basically some sort of pasta stuffed with minced meat (exactly like ravioli) and soaked in garlicy, cilantro-filled laban (yogurt sauce). It’s quite yum.

I’m not exactly sure of the extent of how local it is, according to Wikipedia, it’s a Lebanese-Palestinian dish, but I will assume that it is Levantine/Turkish (does anyone know more on that?)

I think that studying cuisine is the one of the most amusing ways of studying a culture. For example, after quick Googling, I realized that shushbarak is not only Levantine/Turkish, it’s actually Southern Midetteranean. In Greece it’s made with halloumi cheese rather than yogurt, in France it’s made with goat cheese, in Italy it’s ravioli. Interestingly enough, according to food historians, ravioli-style dishes are a Medieval invention, where in Christian cultures they were often served with cheese during Christian Lent and other meat-abstaining days. Keeping in mind that in terms of Arab cuisine, the dish is only known in the Levant, could Shushbarak be a remnant of what was a Byzantine influence?

The other thing that popped into my head while Googling Shushbarak is how no one really understands how different the various Arab regions are, sometimes assigning the term “Arab” to only one region and ignoring the rest. For example, the Wikipedia entry under “Arab Cuisine” says the following, “Arabian cuisine today is the result of a combination of richly diverse cuisines, incorporating Lebanese cooking, Indian cooking…” I mean, last I’ve heard, Lebanese cooking, which I will refer to as Levantine, is Arab. Similarly, cuisine in our part of the world doesn’t have much or even any Indian influences.

Ok. Enough about that. I’m anxious about tomorrow. I can’t imagine travelling without reservations and I really have a feeling that it won’t work…




On being an airhead


  1. Relbas

    I love shishbarak…i miss eating it:(

  2. Interesting! We want to receipe too :-) The one from you grand mother :-)

    Actually, you are right about how cuisine reflects cultures. Not only from one country to another but also in different regions of the same country.

    About arab cuisine: it can be very very different. My husband is Jordanian/Palestinian and I am Tunisian and I can tell you our foods are way different. Palestinian food tends to use a lot of dairy products and lemonish taste where as tunisian food is usually red (tomatoe-based) and spicy. I love both! :-)

  3. moi

    i always knew shushbarak and ravioli were related! sa7tain, that looks delicious :)
    [going to tell mama to make me shushbarak]

  4. I don’t like shushbarak, ya3ni its 3ajeen ma’3li eh! :P

  5. o also good luck with the travel thing :)

  6. mmmmmm,me want some!

  7. et

    We have a dish with very similar name (shushba)
    in East Turkistan but the pic I saw was not indicating the same dish of our country please visit to see our ET dishes
    and we invite you to our blog site
    Zia Uygur

  8. Shishbarak is one of the greatest dishes that take a long time to prepare and so little time to eat :)

    I am not sure about the picture above however; this looks like Shakreyeh not shishbarak .. as the latter is not served with rice … on its own it is more than enough …

    It also has another name .. danen el shayeb which translates to “ears of the old man” because of the way it looks .. hahaha

    sa7ten ya Roba and good luck with travelling tomorrow

    Bakkouz; we usually fry the pieces before putting them in laban so that they dont give the taste of 3ajeen ma’3li if you know what I mean ;)

  9. Khalidah, danen el shayeb?! LOL, that’s an interesting name. Anyway, we eat shushbarak with rice :)

  10. Wallah that’s very interesting to know that Shishbarak can be served with rice … too much carb ha? LOL

    Yeah, I always thought that danen el shayeb was a very funny name :)

  11. Gilad

    when next any of our Jordanian friends here are in Israel,one can experience the wonderful Israeli cuisine at some good restaurants in Haifa,Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.Here are some:

    Btw…I see some even have shishbarak on the menu :)

  12. Gilad, yes, while I was Googling, I discovered that there’s a dish that’s also very similar to shoshbarak called kreplachs (?). I don’t know how it’s made though.. is it with yogurt?

  13. i love shishbarak , in syrian way its served alone without rice :)

  14. mannnn its been ages since ive had that. At our house we simply call this meal ‘taqiaat’ (hats). However, i absolutly detest milk and yogurt so i just would eat the little pastry bits

  15. One of the things I get really excited about when I travel is tasting the different food in each country.

  16. yummy yummy :D i love food and one of my best is shushbarak..

  17. DON’T WRITE OR POST PICTURES of Arabic food again. I hate you.

  18. I share Hareega’s sentiment, even though I don’t really like shushbarak, but God damn it I would choose to eat it over turkey sandwiches any day.

    Any day.

  19. I am the biggest shish barak fan!! Looking good in that pic! :P

  20. Because of this post .. we are having Shishabarak today :D

  21. LOL regarding the indian part in arabic cuisine that is mainly seen in the gulf region, Biryani for instance is indian.
    as for arab food its mainly levant area food, the other side would be north african which is very different as the lady from tunisia said.
    hope this helps explain that a bit.

    as for shushbarak it lack ingenuity and like most arabic food its directed to mass production rather than attentive personal portions, hence i think it is a good example of lazy peoples food.

    Altho i do like lol

  22. nihal

    hi, it is 3 years after the last posting so i don’t even know if anyone reads this anymore… it is purely because i was looking for shushbarak recipes that i stumbled upon this link. how nice to read all the posts!

    first of all, the dish in the bowl does look exactly like shushbarak should, only some people eat it next to rice so soak up the sauce. this depends on the region one is from. of course, each area makes the dumplings a little differently according to historical/cultural influences on that area (and grandma’s recipes)!

    secondly, the israeli restaurants mentioned above are palestinian and they only serve arabic food, there’s nothing israeli about them except for the conditions imposed by israel.

    there are plenty of names used to label this dish– in bethlehem they even use the term “lamb’s ears” and i guess the term jewish hat refers to the shape of the ravioli or dumpling. however, i have never heard of this description before.

    thanks for sharing, i love shushbarak!

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