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Shish Barak: Meat Dumplings in Yogurt Sauce

posted on: Feb 15, 2017

BY: Yara Jouzy/Contributing Writer

Shish Barak is a traditional Arab dish that dates back to the 14th century. Similar to most Arab dishes, the origins are difficult to trace, but it is said that the dish came from pre-Islamic Persia and subsequently variations were made in Azerbaijan, Uzbek and several other countries.

This dish travelled the Middle East and each country personalized the food based on their spices and tastes. While many Arabs eat this dish, it is more popular in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon today.  

The basic and most common preparation of Shish Barak is compared to the Italian ravioli, as it is a pocket of dough filled with ground beef or lamb, garlic, coriander and other fresh herbs. This delicious dish takes hours of preparation, patience, and skills, but is worth the hard work in the end. It gives consumers a delectable taste of the yogurt stew that’s mixed with the meat dumplings and topped with mint and a mellow garlic flavor.

Shish Barak is usually more popular in the spring, as there is more goat milk and yogurt accessible, particularly in Lebanon. Yogurt is one of the main ingredients for such a succulent delicacy, and goat’s milk is known to make the yogurt creamier and richer than cow’s milk.

This spring, practice your skills of making Shish Barak with the following recipe:

Recipe for Shish Barak


For the Shish Barak dumplings:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 500 g coarsely ground beef
  • small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • pinch of cinnamon

For the Sauce

  • 1 kg yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons starch, dissolved in ½ cup water
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. To prepare the dough: sift the flour in a bowl with some salt. Gradually add water and knead to obtain a soft dough. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for 30 min.
  2. To prepare the filling: on high heat, fry the chopped onion in a skillet with the vegetable oil until golden. Add the ground meat, cinnamon, pepper and salt and fry until the meat turns brown. Set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C.
  4. To make the shish barak dumplings: on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough using a rolling pin. Cut the dough into 4 cm circles.
  5. Place 1 teaspoon of filling at the centre of each circle and fold in half. Press edges together then bring both corners together to obtain a dumpling. Seal well.
  6. Put all the meat dumplings in a well-greased baking tray and bake for 10 min or until blushed. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. To prepare the sauce: strain the yogurt into a pot, add the dissolved starch and place over medium heat. Stir continuously in a circular movement until yogurt thickens then reduce the heat. It is very important to stir continuously for the yogurt not to stick to the pot.
  8. In a small skillet, fry the minced garlic and fresh coriander with the vegetable oil and add them to the yogurt. Mix well and turn off the heat.
  9. To serve, place the shish barak dumplings in a serving dish and pour the yogurt sauce in another deep dish. It is customary to serve vermicelli rice along with it. In each individual plate, place a serving of rice and shish barak dumplings and cover with yogurt sauce.
  10. This serving method is recommended to preserve the crunchiness of the shish barak. Another way to serve it is to add the shish barak dumplings to the yogurt sauce before serving, in which case it will lose its crunchiness.

Recipe Source: CookPad