Barbara is a porridge-like dessert that’s made by Syrian and Middle Eastern Christians every year on December 4th to mark the countdown to Christmas and in celebration of Saint Barbara. The story of this day goes back to when Saint Barbara disguised herself in different characters in order to escape the Romans who were persecuting her. She used to hide in wheat fields and witnessed a miracle as the wheat instantly grew to hide her steps. That is why we eat this wheat-based dessert on Saint Barbara’s Day.

The Syrian tradition is that each family makes this recipe and each will share a plate with the other neighborhood families. The fun part is that they would compare whose Barbara is the best of the year.

Wheat is the main ingredient for this recipe as wheat is considered a symbol for life. One seed of wheat if planted can grow and produce more seeds.

The other ingredients are  licorice spices, anise, and fennel powder. Fennel and anise have a licorice sweet taste, therefore, the dish itself doesn’t require a lot of sugar, and for those who like it sweeter extra sugar can be added, spices also can be adjusted depending on your taste, you can start by less and add-on.

Kubbah safarjalīyah (Quince, Kibbeh and Lamb Stew)

Kubbah safarjalīyah is an Aleppine dish that consists of stuffed meatballs cooked with a quince-based soup. The meatballs, known as kibbeh, are typically made with ground lamb or beef, bulgur, and onions. They are stuffed with a mixture of spiced ground lamb or beef, onions, and toasted pine nuts.

Kibbeh Safarjaliyeh is one of the dishes that come from the impact of Aleppo’s exposure to Eastern cultures.

Kibbeh Safarjaliyeh is often prepared in the fall when quince is in season. The fruit becomes sweet and tart when cooked.

Quince, a golden-yellow pear-looking fruit, is cooked in a sweet and sour broth flavored with tons of garlic, dried mint, fresh pomegranate juice and tomato puree. Tender, succulent pieces of lamb add some substance to the stew. Balls of stuffed kibbeh are the star of this dish.

The stuffed meatballs are usually first boiled, and then simmered in safarjaliyeh, which consists of quince, tomato juice, meat, a blend of mint and garlic, pomegranate molasses, and pomegranate juice. Sweet and sour, kubbah safarjalīyah is typically consumed warm.

Syrian Lentil Soup

Syrian Lentil Soup is a rich, warming soup that combines red lentils, rice, cumin and lemon juice. This soup is naturally gluten-free and vegan.

Lentils were discovered in the Stone Age in Mureybet and Tal Abu Hureyra in Syria. In fact, lentil usage in Syrian cuisine goes back even further in history; originating in the Middle East, lentils are believed to be the first legume ever cultivated.

Lentil soup may be cooked with vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, celery, parsley, tomato, and onion. This plate is served with flavorings like garlic, bay leaf, cumin, olive oil, and vinegar. It is sometimes garnished with croutons or chopped herbs and warm or fried bread.

Lentil soup is highly nutritious, a good source of protein, dietary fiber, iron and is cholesterol free. 

Syrian Green Olive Salad

This Green Olive Salad Recipe has fresh ingredients and Mediterranean flavors. Sumac, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice make it a mouthwateringly tangy salad that is perfect to serve on a party table. It is quite satisfying and makes a wonderful light lunch or as appetizer too, but in Syria it would be served with cheese for breakfast

You can enjoy this salad with some warm bread or crackers. It is a great addition to sandwiches or snack boards and it is good for levelling up pasta, tuna salads or mixed greens.

You can prepare a big batch and store it in the fridge and it will last for weeks thanks to the olive oil.

Dates and Nuts Balls

Dates play a central role in traditional Syrian and Arabic desserts, especially those associated with festive occasions like Ramadan, Eid and Easter. From date maamoul and makroota that are popular throughout the Levant to today’s dessert that goes by different names in different areas of the Arabian area.

It is called madkooka (Which means something that is pounded because dates were pounded into a paste in a pestle and mortar). 

Madkooka are traditional desserts, sweet snacks. They are prepared in the form of a crumble, balls or shaped to resemble cookies and maamoul using molds .These desserts feature dates ( date paste or simply pitted dates) that are kneaded with infused butter or ghee and toasted whole wheat flour or roughly ground roasted sesame seeds. The date mix is optionally infused with spices, nuts or tahini to add layers of texture, aroma, color and flavor.

Whole wheat flour and sesame seeds are nutty by nature but toasting them makes that nuttiness even more pronounced and adds an endearing aroma.

Infusing the butter with cardamom allows its unique smokiness that permeates the entire mix.