“If someone thinks that peace and love are just a cliche that must have been left behind in the 60’s, that’s a problem. Peace and love are eternal.”
– John Lennon
I have a thing for retro, vintage and all things ancient. I love the cross stitching of the Palestinian villagers, on cushions, dresses, wallets and even table runners. I love old and used pots and pans, they look like they have been used to death, allowing the owners to have some good times. I also have a thing for old traditional recipes. The ones passed through from generation to another. Secret recipes, old recipes, family recipes the old & forgotten recipes make me excited. I can run the earth in search of such recipes. I value them and hold them close to my heart. To me, they are stories, like legacies, left behind to tell tales of a people passed, their lifestyles, their celebrations, their flavours and their values… I Love the insight. Tucking into foods of such nature is a pleasure. Just close your eyes, with every hint of coriander, with every breath of broth-infused yogurt sauce and with every brushing of creamy goodness on your tongue… close your eyes, and breathe… think of those people who were. Think of the simpler life they lead, the lack of TV and the appreciation of the storytelling pastime. The slower pace and a whole family, even extended family, all gathered up at an Iftar table. Think of that mother who cooked the stew, who as she cooked thought of her children, their futures and what is to be. Take a bite, breathe in the aromas, slowly, and try to imagine the streets of those times. Less cars, less noise, less modern, less fuss. Think of Iftar time, when the streets are empty, because everyone is gathered at that table to savour the hard work in the kitchen that spells LOVE… I love old recipes, traditional recipes, ones that become a definition of a relationship, a family speciality and legacy that eventually make up cuisines. Such is Arabic Cuisine. There is a story behind every dish. A reason why this dish is important to the family. A history of a family, an area and even a social class. We might not know all the stories, but I am always amazed by those I get to find out about. There is so much simplicity, necessity, and truthfulness behind every dish. Simply amazing.
Today’s recipe is for a traditional Levantine dish that is very famous and can be traced way back in time. Kubbeh o Shishbarak Bilaban is a concoction that requires a lot of preparing ahead. Let’s say it would be quite challenging to freshly make the Kubbeh, Shishbarak and go on to cooking them in yogurt sauce all on the same day; to be served for lunch! Therefore this is one dish that you will have to make in stages. You can prepare the Kubbeh for freezing, this is a link for a detailed tutorial of how you can make the Kubbeh. Please note that the Kubbeh made for this dish is usually a smaller size Kubbeh than that made for other purposes. The same instructions, just smaller size. You can make it ahead, and freeze till ready to use. Then you need to prepare the Shishbarak. In a previous post I posted a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Shishbarak, here is a link. Once you have these two items ready, you will not believe how easy it is to cook this dish. It is just a matter of making the sauce and adding the Kubbes and Shishbaraks to it!
Mum calls this dish Shorta o Haramiyeh (literally meaning Police & Thieves!!) Many people use this naming for this dish and some say Askar o Haramyeh which eventually means the same! I find the name very strange! Why thieves? Why police? Which ones are the thieves and which are the police? Very funny! Well I will share with you the version I grew up eating. I will share mum’s police and thieves, the recipe which she was given by grandma, who in turn inherited it from her mother…