Coming Home with Shush-Barak

Posted on 01/22/16

by Rana Akleh

One of my favorite things about Palestinian culture is the food. All my best memories are of my family sitting down together over a traditional home cooked meal. This past holiday break (December 2015), my family gathered over shush-barak. Shush-barak, if in English terms, is ravioli stuffed with lamb or beef, stewed in a thick goat milk yogurt. My description doesn’t do the taste justice. Taking a bite into shush-barak rushes back memories: my mom making it on a cold day when I was younger, my cousins and mom visiting me in the East Coast for my first Thanksgiving away from home, my wonderful aunt in Bethlehem and our drive around town, my extended family uniting to all cook and eat shush-barak, and especially, laughter shared among mother and daughter while making and eating this meal. This dish brings me home and I hope it will bring you home as well. Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: The goat yogurt for this recipe comes from distinct areas in Palestine where the goat milk yogurt is dehydrated into rock like structures. This is not a recipe to make the goat yogurt.

The Meat:

  1. Cut one onion into small pieces.
  2. Sautee the onion with butter until a little brown, and add one pound of organic ground lamb/beef and mix until all the water is gone from the pan.
  3. Add salt to taste, a little cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg, and a little ground coriander. Mix well.
  4. Once it is done cooking, add the meat to a strainer to remove all the excess fat.
  5. Set to the side.

The Dough:

  1. Mix 4 cups of sifted all-purpose flour, a little salt, and warm water together in a bow and mix until the dough is done. It should have a medium consistency, where it isn’t too soft or too hard.
  2. Put the dough in a bowl and cover for about an hour.
  3. On a flour surface, roll out the dough to about 0.5 cm thickness.
  4. Using a champagne glass, cut the dough into circles.
  5. Into the circles, add the cooked meat and close the dough into a knot shape. Put each “ravioli” on a tray separate from other another.
  6. When the tray is full, place in the freezer.
  7. When frozen, remove from tray and put in a plastic bag in the freezer.

The Soup:

  1. The yogurt is specially bought from Palestine. It’s rock solid dehydrated goat milk yogurt.
  2. This needs to be soaked in water over night.
  3. The next day, put the yogurt mixture into a blender and mix. It will become a thick liquid.
  4. In a stainless steel pot, whisk the yogurt on low heat until it starts to boil, then add hot organic chicken broth until the desired thickness of the soup.
  5. Add the frozen “raviolis” to the soup and let it boil for 10-15 minutes. It shouldn’t take too much time since the meat is already cooked. Just make sure the dough is cooked.
  6. Enjoy!