Shish barak is a famous meat dumpling recipe all over the Levant region, 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!
This recipe does involve a few steps, so it takes a little bit of time. It's a great weekend dish or holiday dish when you want to make something extra special. Don't be intimidated by the difficulty because I'll walk you through step by step how to make it. Also, there's a video at the bottom of the post.
There are three parts to shish barak, so the ingredients have been 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 substitute 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 in making 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?
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 With This Dish
- 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.
How To Lighten Up This Dish:
Instead of pan-frying the dumplings in butter, bake the shish barak dumplings in the oven at 375 ℉ (190 ℃) for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Another option is to use a lean ground meat. It's possible to substitute ground chicken breast or lean ground turkey.
Finally, measure and reduce the amount of butter and use a non-stick frying pan. Additionally, a cooking spray is an appropriate substitute when pan-frying the dumplings.
Watch How To Make It
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- 2 cups flour
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- ¼ cup oil
- 1 egg
- ½ teaspoon yeast
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ lb ground beef
- 2 medium onions
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon all-spice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup pinenuts optional
- 4 cups yogurt
- 2 cups water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon short grain rice
- 1 tablespoon dried mint
How to make the dough:
- Mix the flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast
- Add the egg and vegetable oil. Combine everything together
- Gradually start adding water until the dough becomes non-sticky and quite soft
- Roll into a ball, set in the center of a glass bowl. Cover the dough with cling film and a kitchen towel.
- Let it rest for at least one hour.
Get the meat-filling ready:
- Heat up the butter and pop the onion in to get it all fragrant and cooked up
- Add the ground meat and spices and cook until the meat is browned
- Sprinkle with the pine nuts if using and then set the filling aside
Now on to the dumplings:
- Knead the dough and roll it out into a thin layer
- Use a cookie cutter to make circle cuts in the dough
- Fill each circle with a teaspoon of the meat filling (make sure not to over-fill them)
- Use your fingers to close up the dough and form a sort of a half moon shape. After that, fold both sides of the shape around your index finger and pinch it together. (The final shape looks a little bit like tortellini).
- Heat up a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan and half-cook the dumplings. Following that, set them aside.
Let's put everything together:
- Strain the yogurt in the pot you're going to use during the cooking process
- Then add in the water and cornstarch mixture and whisk everything really well
- Turn on the heat and bring to a boil while stirring constantly
- Keep stirring and then turn the heat to low
- Add in the dumplings + dried mint and bring everything to a boil
- Let the shish barak stew cook together for a few minutes before turning off the heat
- It's better to serve this dish after it cools down and not while it's still sizzling hot.