Syrian cuisine

Syrian cuisine includes the cooking traditions and practices of modern Syria (as opposed to Greater Syria), merging the habits of people who settled in Syria throughout its history.

Syrian cuisine mainly uses eggplant, zucchini, garlic, meat (mostly from lamb and sheep), sesame seeds, rice, chickpeas, fava beans, lentils, cabbage, cauliflower, vine leaves, pickled turnips, cucumbers, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, mint, pistachios, honey and fruits.

At the beginning of the 21st century, selections of appetizers known as "meze" are customarily served along with Arabic bread before the Syrian meal's main course, which is followed by coffee, with sweet confectioneries or fruits at will. Many recipes date from at least the 13th century.[1]



Meze include:

Name Description
Hummus (حمص) a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic.
hummus bil-lahm (حمص باللحم) hummus with meat on top.
Tabbouleh (تبولة) bulgur, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, spring onion, with lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.
Mutabbal (متبل) mashed eggplant (aubergine) blended with tahini, olive oil, salt and garlic.
Babaghanoush (بابا غنوج) eggplant (aubergine) mashed and mixed with seasonings.
Moussaka (مسقعة) grilled eggplant (aubergine) mashed with olive oil, tomato, onion and garlic.
Fasolia bi zeit (فاصوليا بزيت) green beans with olive oil, lemon and garlic.
Kibbeh (كبة) in the Middle East– dishes made of bulghur, chopped meat, and spices.
Kibbe Nayye – burghul (كبة نية) pounded lamb meat, and spices.
Fattoush (فتوش) salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread.
Falafel (فلافل) a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.
Olives (زيتون)
Halloumi cheese (جبنة حلومي) usually sliced and grilled or fried.
Labneh (لبنة) strained yogurt which tastes similar to cream or sour cream only more tart.
Shanklish (شنكليش) cow's milk or sheep's milk cheeses.
Makdus (مكدوس) Stuffed and pickled eggplants.
Yalanji (يالانجي) Vine leaves stuffed with rice and a variety of vegetables and served hot or cold.
Muhammarah (محمرة) A hot pepper dip from Aleppo,[2] made from Aleppo pepper.
Fatteh (فتّة) Pieces of Arabic bread covered with other ingredients.
Fatteh bi-s-samn (فتّة بالسمن) Fatteh made with beef or sheep tallow.
Fatteh bi-z-zayt (فتّة بالزيت) Fatteh made with vegetable, corn, or olive oil.
Fatteh al-makdus (فتّة المكدوس) Fatteh with makdus and minced meat.
Fatteh dajaj (فتّة دجاج) Fatteh with chicken.
Fatteh bi-l-lahm (فتّة باللحم) Fatteh with meat.

Vine leaves

Name Description
Yabrak (يبرق) Vine leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat cooked and served hot.
Yalanji (يالانجي) Vine leaves stuffed with rice and a variety of vegetables and served hot or cold.


Name Description
Kebab (كباب) Grilled meat.
Kebab Halabi (كباب حلبي meaning "Aleppine kebab") Kebab served with a spicy tomato sauce and Aleppo pepper. It has about 26 variants,[3] including:
  • kebab hindi (كباب هندي), made from rolled lamb, with tomato paste, onion, capsicum and pomegranate molasses;
  • kebab kamayeh (كباب كميه), made from soft meat with truffle pieces, onion and various nuts;
  • kebab karaz (كباب كرز), made from lamb meatballs with cherries and cherry paste, pine nuts, sugar and pomegranate molasses;
  • kebab khashkhash (كباب خشخاش), made from rolled lamb or beef with chili pepper paste, parsley, garlic and pine nuts;
  • siniyyet kebab (صينيّة كباب), made from lean minced lamb served on a tray with chili pepper, onion and tomato.


A variety of Syrian dishes made from a fried, baked, grilled, cooked, or raw mixture of bulghur and minced lamb are called "kubbeh" (كبّة). Kubbeh recipes include:

Name Description
Kubbeh bi-s-siniyyeh (كبّة بالصينيّة meaning "plate kubbeh") A plate of baked kubbeh.
Kubbeh Halab (كبّة حلب) Kubbeh with a rice crust. Although named after Aleppo, this recipe seems to be of Iraqi origin.
Kubbeh hamid (كبّة حامض) Kubbeh with lemon juice.
Kubbeh labaniyyeh (كبّة لبنيّة) Cooked kubbeh with yogurt.
Kubbeh 'qras Grilled ((كبّة أقراص (مشوية) Grilled kubbeh.
Kubbeh nayyeh (كبّة نيّة) Raw kubbeh.
Kubbeh safarjaliyyeh (كبّة سفرجليّة) Kubbeh with quince.
Kubbeh summa'iyyeh (كبّة سمّاقيّة) Kubbeh with sumac.


A famous dish served in Syria is made from vegetables (usually zucchiniكوسا / kūsā—or eggplantباذنجان / bādhinjān) which are stuffed (محشي / maḥshī) with ground beef or lamb or mutton, and nuts and rice.

Street food

Syrian street food includes:

Name Description
Booza (بوظة) Ice cream known for its elastic texture
Falafil (فلافل) Fried balls or patties of spiced, mashed chickpeas, most often served in Arabic bread, with pickles, tahina, hummus, sumac, cut vegetable salad and often, shatteh, a hot sauce, the type used depending on the falafil maker.
Ka'ak (كعك) Rings of bread, made from farina and other ingredients, commonly sprinkled with sesame seeds, occasionally served on the table to accompany Syrian cheese. A buttery and sweetened version of these, filled with crushed dates or walnuts, is eaten as a dessert, usually served to eat with string cheese shaped into a braid (jibneh mashallaleh).
Shawarma (شاورما) Sliced and marinated meat shaved off a roasting skewer and stuffed into Arabic bread or sometimes baguette, alone with hummus, or with additional trimmings such as fresh onion, French fries, salads and pickles.


Sweets include:

Name Description
Ba'lawah (بقلاوة) Layered pastry filled with nuts, steeped in a honey syrup called "'atr" (قطر), and usually cut in a triangular or diamond shape.
Crêpe (كريب) a very thin French pastry with butter and sugar.
Rice pudding (رز بحليب) made from rice mixed with water or milk and other ingredients such as cinnamon.
Kanafeh (كنافة) Shoelace pastry dessert stuffed with sweet white cheese, nuts and syrup.
Basbousa (بسبوسة) A sweet cake made of cooked semolina or farina soaked in simple syrup.
Halawet al-jibn (حلاوة الجبن) Pastry rolled and stuffed with cheese or thick milk cream, served with a honey syrup called "'atr" (قطر).
Halweh (حلوة) A slab of sesame paste studded with fruit and candy/sweets.
Ma'mul (معمول) Biscuits filled with dates, pistachios or walnuts, and shaped in a wooden mould called "tabi'" (طابع). It is a popular sweet on Christian holidays (Easter), Muslim holidays ('Id al-Fitr), and Jewish holidays (Purim).
Taj al-malik (تاج الملك meaning "king's crown") Round dry pastry, the centre of which is filled with pistachios, cashews or other nuts.
Nabulsiyyeh (نابلسيّة) A layer of semi-salty Nabulsi cheese covered with a semolina dough and drizzled with a honey syrup called "'atr" (قطر).
Qada'ef (قطايف) Semolina dough stuffed with a paste made from sweet walnuts or milk cream, with a honey syrup called "'atr" (قطر).
Qamar al-Din (قمر الدين) Dried apricot paste.
Mamuniyyeh (مامونيّة) Mixture of semolina and ghee butter simmered in water with sugar, usually served with salty cheese or milk cream called "qishteh" (قشطة).
Suwar as-sitt (سوار الست meaning "lady's wristlet") A disc-shaped pastry steeped in a honey syrup called "'atr" (قطر) while the centre is covered with smashed pistachios.
Zilabiyyeh (زلابيّة) Thin sheets of semolina dough, boiled, rolled and stuffed with pistachios or milk cream called "qishteh" (قشطة).
Ghazal al-banat (غزل البنات) Sugar cotton candy stuffed with pistachios or cashew.
Halaweh Homsiyyeh (حلاوة حمصيّة)
Znud as-sitt (زنود الست meaning "lady's arms") Phyllo pastries with various fillings.


  • Nygella Cake


  • Tresse cheese (Jibne Khadra) is a form of string cheese, that originates in Syria, known by its Arabic name Jibneh Mshallaleh .
  • White cheese, a white hard cheese with a pronounced salty taste
  • Shanklish, cow's milk or sheep's milk cheeses
  • Halloumi cheese, a semi-hard, unripened, brined cheese


Name Description
'Ara' (عرق) A distilled alcoholic spirit, transparent in color, made from anise seeds.
Wine (نبيذ) An alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes.
Syrian beer (البيرة السوريّة) A beverage prepared from yeast-fermented malt, flavored with hops.
Syrian coffee (قهوة) A beverage made from lightly roasted coffee beans along with cardamom, and served in small cups (same as the Turkish coffee).
Qamar al-Din (قمر الدين) A thick apricot juice, typically served for Iftar during Ramadan.
Al-mateh (المته) A caffeine-infused drink produced from ground yerba mate leaves and served hot.
Salep (سحلب) A traditional winter beverage which is a flour made from the tubers of the orchid genus Orchis. Salep flour is consumed in beverages and desserts.
'Ayran (عيران) A yogurt-based beverage mixed with salt and water.
Polo (بولو) Mint lemonade.
Jallab (جلاب) A fruit syrup which can be combined with liquid to form a hot or warm beverage.
Qahweh bayda' (قهوة بيضاء meaning "white coffee") A caffeine-free drink made from water and orange blossom water, sweetened with sugar at will, usually served in lieu of coffee.

See also


  1. Eddé, Anne-Marie. (1999). La Principauté ayyoubide d'Alep (579/1183 – 658/1260).
  2. The Culinary Institute of America (2008). Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen (Hardcover ed.). Wiley. p. 53. ISBN 0-470-05590-1.
  3. "كونا :: المطبخ الحلبي ينفرد بتنوع اطعمته وطيب نكته 11/01/2006".

Further reading

  • Gerbino, Virginia Jerro; Kayal, Philip (2002). A taste of Syria. New York: Hippocrene. ISBN 9780781809467.
  • Kadé-Badra, Dalal; Badra, Elie (2013). Flavours of Aleppo : celebrating Syrian cuisine. Vancouver, Canada: Whitecap Books. ISBN 9781770501782.

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