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Shish Barak is a Middle Eastern favorite that’s perfect for any occasion. Lebanese dumplings start with homemade dough that is filled with a savory blend of ground beef, spices, and pine nuts. The stuffed dumplings are then baked before simmering in a creamy mint yogurt sauce that softens the crisped dumplings for a delicious and comforting dish the whole family will love!
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this shish barak recipe
- What is Shish Barak?
- Ingredients to make shish barak
- How to make shish barak
- Tips for making the best LEBANESE DUMPLINGS IN YOGURT
- Popular substitutions & additions
- How to store & reheat meat-filled dumplings in yogurt
- Frequently asked questions
- MORE LEBANESE RECIPES WITH YOGURT:
- Shish Barak Recipe
With its unique combination of flavors and textures, Shish Barak is a true Middle Eastern dish that will impress your family and friends at any gathering. Don’t be intimidated by the process to make it. I’ll break it down for you and you can recruit some family members to help!
Why you’ll love this shish barak recipe
- The best mint yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce is so delicious, creamy, and a classic in Lebanese cuisine. It’s similar to my other yogurt-based recipes, such as Lebanese Chicken Fatteh and Kibbeh in Yogurt Sauce. The addition of mint adds a refreshing level of flavor to complement the savory flavors of the dumplings.
- Authentic Lebanese recipe. This is probably the one Lebanese recipe that my parents actually did not make growing up! But I’ve enjoyed it before when my aunt made it and I’m so grateful she was able to share the recipe with me.
- Easy to find ingredients. While it may be an authentic Middle eastern recipe, you can find everything you need at your local grocery store! The 7-spice should be available in the seasoning aisle, or you can make your own 7-spice blend with common spices.
What is Shish Barak?
Shish barak is a mouth-watering Middle Eastern delicacy with small, flavorful dough pockets filled with spiced ground meat, usually lamb or beef, and simmered in a delicious yogurt-based sauce. The dish is traditionally served hot and garnished with fragrant herbs and spices like mint, parsley, and sumac.
Shish barak is popular throughout the Middle East and is usually served during special occasions and celebrations, but it is also great as a weeknight dinner if you have the time to make it. It is also known by other names, such as jibneh barak (with cheese filling) and sambousak (with a pastry crust).
Ingredients to make shish barak
There are three different components for making shish barak: dough, beef filling, and yogurt sauce.
Shish barak dough:
- Flour + salt: I use all-purpose flour. The salt is a flavor enhancer and shouldn’t be skipped!
- Warm water + oil: Warm water helps to start activating the gluten right away. Use a neutral oil such as avocado or olive oil.
Beef filling for dumplings
- Ground beef: Choose lean ground beef for the ideal meat-to-fat ratio and so you don’t have to drain the meat before filling your dumplings. If you have leftovers, you can freeze the cooked beef mixture for later.
- Onion + garlic: The easiest way to add flavor to recipes is onions and garlic. I like to use fresh garlic and yellow onions, but you can choose a different onion if preferred.
- Spices: 7 spice, salt, and pepper. I also use fresh parsley for the mixture and extra for serving.
- Pine nuts: You can toast them first or just add them to the beef filling untoasted. I prefer toasting them, though, because it enhances the nutty flavor.
Easy yogurt sauce
- Plain yogurt + water: You can combine any unsweetened plain yogurt you like with water to thin it into a sauce-like consistency.
- Cornstarch, salt, and dried mint: Cornstarch adds a silky texture while the salt and mint infuse it with flavor.
How to make shish barak
While there are a few different components to making homemade shish barak, it’s really quite straightforward. You’ll start by preparing the dough and while it rests, you can make the meat filling and preheat the oven. Once your dough is ready, it’s simply cutting them into rounds, filling with the mixture, and forming into dumplings. Bake and then add to your creamy yogurt sauce!
Prepare the dough
- Add the flour, water, olive oil, and salt to the stand mixer bowl fitted with the hook attachment.
- Mix until it forms a smooth, springy ball, then cover the dough to rest at room temperature while making the beef filling.
Make the beef filling
- Add the ground beef and onions to a hot oiled skillet and cook, breaking up the ground beef with the back of a spatula until it is minced and browned
- Add the garlic, season with 7 spice, salt, and pepper, and cook until fragrant before folding in the parsley and pine nuts. Set aside to while you make the dumpling shells before filling them with the meat mixture.
Roll the dough and make dumplings
- Lightly flour a flat surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough flat. Use a small cookie cutter or round object to cut the dough into discs
- Spoon a small amount of the beef filling into a cut piece of dough.
- To form the dumplings, first fold the dough into a half-moon around the filling.
- Then, pinch the two ends together to close the dumpling into a tortellini shape. Continue with the remaining pieces and place them on a parchment line baking sheet.
Bake the dumplings
- Once you’ve prepared and lined all the dumplings on a baking sheet, bake them in a preheated oven.
- They will have a nice light browning to them with a crisp shell. Meanwhile, prepare the yogurt sauce.
Make the sauce and serve
- Add the yogurt sauce ingredients to a saucepan.
- Before turning on the heat, whisk everything together to get a smooth consistency with no more clumps.
- Once the mixture is well combined, turn on the heat and stir frequently until the mixture starts to thicken. Once warmed, add the baked dumpling to the sauce.
- Allow the dumplings to simmer at a low temperature until they start to float to the top.
Tips for making the best LEBANESE DUMPLINGS IN YOGURT
- Toast the pine nuts before making the beef filling. You don’t need to toast the pine nuts, but they are more flavorful that way. I recommend toasting them on a dry skillet until golden brown before cooking the filling. That way, it’s fewer pans to wash.
- Skip the oven. Instead of baking the small meat dumplings you can simmer them in salted water until they float. I prefer the baking method because I love the texture of the dough when it is baked before simmering in the yogurt sauce.
- Roll the dough thinly. You want your dough to be at the most 1/8th inch thick, but you can go a little thinner than this. You can also stretch the dough rounds a bit with your hands when adding the filling and forming into little tortellini shapes.
- Simmer until the float. Once you transfer the baked dumplings to the yogurt sauce you’ll want to allow it to simmer at low heat. You’ll know they’re ready once the start to pop up to the surface. The sauce will soak into the dumplings and soften them up as they cook for an irresistibly chewy, meat-filled pillow of goodness.
Popular substitutions & additions
- Use premade dumpling wrappers. If you want to try this recipe but not ready to dive into making the dough, that’s okay! You can buy dumpling skins or wonton wrappers instead and just make the meat filling and fill them. It may not have the exact texture from homemade, but it’s all about the meat filling and sauce!
- Switch out the filling. Instead of using ground beef, you can try using ground lamb or ground chicken or turkey for a lighter option. For a vegetarian shish barak, you can use a filling made of mushrooms, or lentils.
- Add more flavor to the sauce. Traditionally, the sauce is made with yogurt and mint but you can add other ingredients too. Swap out the herbs with dill, or cilantro, add spices like cumin, paprika, or sumac, or you can also add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar for some acidity.
- Swap the nuts. Instead of pine nuts you can try the making the seasoned meat with chopped walnuts, cashews, or almonds.
How to store & reheat meat-filled dumplings in yogurt
Allow the shish barak to cool down to room temperature and transfer to an air tight container to store in the fridge.
To reheat, simmer in a pot on the stove over low heat until heated through. Avoid cooking on high heat as it may scorch the yogurt sauce and cause it to seperate and burn. If this happens, it hard to fix as the burnt flavor will transfer through the sauce and make it very unpleasant.
How long will shish baraklast in the fridge?
You can store leftovers up to 3-4 days in the fridge.
Can I freeze Lebanese dumplings?
While the yogurt sauce shouldn’t be frozen, the dumplings absolutely can be frozen before or after cooking. After filling and shaping them, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in the freezer. Allow them to freeze completely, up to 1-2 hours, before transferring to a ziptop bag and storing in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. Follow the same steps for freezing after baking, allow them to cool completely first.
Frequently asked questions
Shish Barak is believed to have originated in Lebanon, but it is also popular in other countries in the Levant region, such as Syria, Jordan, and Palestine.
Ground lamb or beef is traditionally used in Shish Barak, but you can also use ground chicken or turkey if you prefer.
Yes, you can prepare the dumplings and filling in advance and refrigerate or freeze them until ready to cook. You can also prepare the yogurt sauce ahead of time and refrigerate it separately for up to 3-4 days.
The spiced ground beef filling and warm, creamy yogurt sauce in Shish Barak make for a comforting and delicious dish that is sure to become a family favorite. With its pillowy dumplings and tasty seasoning, this Lebanese classic is worth the effort of making from scratch.
MORE LEBANESE RECIPES WITH YOGURT:
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- Prepare the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix the flour, water, olive oil, and salt until it forms a smooth, springy ball, 5 to 7 minutes. Cover and allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Make the beef filling. Heat the olive oil in a medium size pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and onions, and cook, breaking up the ground beef with the back of a spatula until it is minced and browned, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, season with 7 spice, salt and pepper, and cook until fragrant, 2 more minutes. Fold in the parsley and pine nuts. Set aside.
- Cut the dough. Lightly flour a flat surface and use a rolling pin roll the dough flat about ⅛-inch in thickness, about 16×16 inches wide. Use a small 2-inch cookie cutter or round object to cut the dough into discs. You can roll the remaining dough pieces and make more discs from it.
- Make the dumplings. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add about 1 teaspoon of the beef filling into the piece of dough and fold over into a half moon shape. Pinch the two ends together to close into a tortellini shape. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Bake in the preheated oven until the dumplings are lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Prepare the yogurt sauce. Whisk together the yogurt, water, cornstarch, salt, and dried mint in a large pot with no heat until there are no more clumps. Once the mixture is well combined, turn the heat to medium and stir frequently until the mixture starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. It will continue to thicken as it cooks with the dumplings.
- Assemble and serve. Add the baked dumplings into the yogurt sauce and cook until the dumplings start to float to the top, about 10 minutes. Ladle the dumplings with the sauce into bowls, garnish with pine nuts and mint.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.