All my life I loved shesh barak! My mother couldn’t cope with my wishes of having this tortellini like dough filled with minced meat, onions and parsley all the time. Time consuming as they are, especially if you are cooking for a bunch of kids like us, my mom came up with a simplified version of shesh barak that satisfied everybody. You can find the story behind her original and equally delicious recipe in my book.
The original recipe requires a bit of patience, though. I always prepare shesh barak before hand and freeze them. That way, I am relaxed when shesh barak is on the menu as the only thing I need to do is to deep-fry the tortellinis and cook the yoghurt.
Speaking of the latter, as much as I loved yoghurt dishes when I was a young girl, I used to hate being asked to help cooking it. Bet you had to unwillingly assist in the kitchen if you were Lebanese or from that part of the world? Bet that your mother would have never entrusted you with the kibbeh shells or the shesh baraks, but she would have asked you to stir the yoghurt in the same direction for a minimum of 30 minutes until it boiled once? Stirring in different directions while cooking the yoghurt would have namely made it curdle and would have eventually spoiled the day with your mother, who would have ever wanted that?
With a twinkle in my eye I now observe my students in the cooking courses while cooking the yoghurt and quietly complaining about this stirring in one direction! Make it once yourself, and you will love the garlic flavour and the brightness of the dried mint in the yoghurt, you will even enjoy eating it without any shesh barak! And why not serve those scrumptious little caps to drinks instead of chips or nuts?
Shesh Barak - Tortellini in cooked yoghurt
- for the dough
- 350 g sifted flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 80 ml sunflower oil
- 150 ml lukewarm water
- for the filling
- 350 g minced beef meat
- 1 medium onion 125 g, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 500 ml sunflower oil for deep frying
- for the yoghurt
- 2 litres full fat yoghurt
- 750 ml cold water
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 1 egg white
- 2 ½ teaspoon salt
- 40 g rice rinsed and soaked in cold water for 30 minutes, drained, optional
- 30 g butter
- 6 small garlic cloves peeled and crushed
- ½ teaspoon crushed dried mint crushed over the cooked yoghurt to release their oils and essence
- For the dough: Mix the flour and the salt in the bowl. Add the oil and the water and knead well for about 5 minutes until it is smooth and malleable. If you feel it is a bit dry, wet your fingertips with little water and continue kneading. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Combine the ingredients of the filling in the bowl.
- Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a 30 cm long rope. Cover the ropes with a towel while making the tortellini. Cut one roll into 2 cm pieces. Hold one piece between your fingertips and stretch it into a 6 cm round. Place 1 teaspoonful of the filling in the centre of the round, fold it till the ends meet forming a half-moon and pinch the ends to completely close. Now fold both ends to make a tortellini. Repeat procedure.
- Heat the oil in the medium pot over high heat. Gently drop the shesh barak in 4 to 5 batches and deep fry over moderate to high heat for about 5 minutes or until golden brown in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- For the yoghurt: Whisk the yoghurt, the water, the egg white, the corn starch, the drained rice and the salt in the large pot. Cook the yoghurt over moderate to high heat; whisking all the time and always in the same direction to keep yoghurt from curdling, for about 20 minutes or until it boils once.
- Heat the butter in the frying pan over moderate heat and sauté the garlic for one minute. Stir garlic into the yoghurt and cook over moderately low heat for another 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the crushed dried mint and serve hot.
- Serving: add some cooked yoghurt and some shesh barak into a soup plate and eat hot.