Shishbarak is a Levantine cuisine preparation, that is believed to have originated in Syria. However some people believe that it’s real origin is Turkish, and some even believe that the Turks have adapted theirs based on the original Armenian cuisine’s Mante. As with most Middle Eastern food the origins are very tricky to confirm and require much research. I have done some extensive research about Arabic cooking, and having read a plethora of historical cooking references, as well as the research I have done in Istanbul with the turks themselves, I have formed an idea as to where this might have originated from. I will not discuss this today as it deserves a dedicated post, which I shall do. For now, I am confident to say that according to the historical documents, court documentations and orientalist books, the first historical reference of this specific dumpling is in 11th century Arabic cooking. From there to Sicily and from there – as different pastas including tortellini and others – to Europe.
With that said, and whichever the origin of Shishbarak, it is delightful and produces very tender and delicious dumplings that while traditionally are cooked in a yogurt sauce, do lend themselves well to a variety of options if you allow yourself to imagine and try. Think, soup, think the Asian style steamed with perhaps a pomegranate sauce, think deconstructed… there really is no limit except your imagination!
Shishbarak is is essentially a dough casing that is filled with a classic meat filling. It is very similar to the Italian Tortellini, both in concept and final shape. Once the dough is rolled filled and shaped, it is then slightly baked in preparation for freezing (option for the frozen pantry). Or cooked straight away if having it fresh.
Making the Shishbarak is the first step, then using this Shishbarak in the making of a variety of stews is the final product. Check out the “Shishbarak & Kubbeh stew in yogurt sauce on this link.
In case you were wondering how to make the original Italian Tortellini, I have also included it for you here in the video recipe below.
Yalla let’s get rolling…