I am back here with one of the recipes that have been a family favorite forever and is known around my house as the best Lebanese recipe for shish barak. This dish is super famous all over the Levant and for good reason. After all, what's better than fresh, homemade meat-filled dumplings cooked in a tangy yogurt-mint sauce? Absolutely nothing - you can trust me on this. I always thought the best ever Lebanese shish barak was so difficult to make until I actually made it and honestly it turned out to be pretty straightforward. Scroll down to learn how to make this rich family favorite.
Ingredients for Shish Barak
There are three parts to shish barak, so the ingredients have broken into those three parts below.
Shish Barak Dumpling Dough:
- Flour: I usually a mix of wholewheat and regular flour but you can use either.
- Yeast: A key ingredient to get the perfect dough.
- Warm Water: To help knead the flour mixture and bind it together.
- Vegetable oil: Super important to create the perfect dough. I use canola oil but you can sub it for any other vegetable oil (sunflower/corn).
- Sugar: Yep, just a teeny bit of sugar brings out the best flavor when it comes to making the dumpling dough.
- Salt: A dash of salt to taste.
- Eggs: I use one egg in this recipe, it's a key ingredient to make the shish barak dumpling dough.
Shish Barak Meat Filling:
- Butter: Just a tad does wonders here.
- Ground beef: This kind of meat is perfect for this recipe. Some people like to use ground lamb meat, but I prefer beef.
- Onions: Chopped onions are essential in this filling. The best onions for this recipe are brown onions, white onions, yellow onions, or sweet onions.
- All-spice: A dash of all-spice brings out so much flavor.
- Ground cinnamon: Yep, it might come as quite the shock. However, cinnamon adds such an incredible flavor kick. Remember that a little goes a long way.
- Salt: A small dash (Don't overdo it because there's a bit of salt in the dough and the yogurt mixture).
- Pine nuts (optional): The perfect addition to the best meat-filling ever.
Yogurt Mint Sauce:
- Plain yogurt: You pretty much guessed this. The yogurt must be strained before it's used for this recipe.
- Cornstarch mixed with water: This is what thickens the yogurt sauce and brings the shish barak dish together.
- Short-grain rice: I add a handful of washed rice grains in the yogurt sauce.
- Dried mint: Fragrant and perfect for the sauce.
Tips for Making Homemade Dumplings
- Make sure you let the dough rest for at least an hour after you knead it. Cover it with some cling film and a kitchen towel. Then set it aside while prepping the meat-filling and other ingredients.
- Never stop stirring the yogurt sauce while you're bringing it to a boil. I learned this from my grandmother. This is the key to thickening up the sauce and preventing it from curdling. Once you place the yogurt and cornstarch mixture on the heat, you need to keep stirring it until it boils over a few times. (It takes around 30-40 minutes so you might need to ask someone to lend a helping hand here).
Shish Barak is Perfect for Meal Prep
Yep, you read that right. Even though it's considered difficult to make, this dish can be put together so fast when you meal prep for it. Here are a few ideas:
- Make the dough ahead or use frozen dough
- Double the amount of meat-filled dough dumplings for this recipe. You can use half here and freeze the rest (they keep well for up to 6 months). This makes it super easy to just defrost and cook the bites in yogurt the next time you're craving some shish barak.
How long does it take to make this recipe for shish barak?
Shish barak takes quite a bit of time to make just because there are so many elements that need to come together before it's all done. All-in-all, it took me around 3 hours to make this dish. If you're looking to cut down the time, you can make the dough ahead of time or use frozen shish barak dumplings. Despite the fact that it requires quite the effort, this recipe is so worth it so don't be put off by the time it takes to make it.
What to serve shish barak with?
- In some Lebanese households, shish barak goes hand in hand with kibbeh b zeit (oven-baked meat and bulgur pie).
- I know many people who love having shish barak with fattoush (a super popular salad in Lebanon and the Arab world). I tried it once and found the combination quite unique. Fatoush is often served as a meal opener and then followed with shish barak as the main course.
- Shish barak has a tad of rice mixed in with the yogurt sauce but some love to serve it alongside Lebanese vermicelli rice on the side.
Here's how to lighten up this dish:
- Bake the shish barak dumplings instead of browning or sautéing them with butter.
- Use 90 percent lean ground meat.
- Use less butter to cook the meat filling or replace it with some cooking spray.