Shish Barak (Dumplings Poached in Yogurt)

Nadir Abu-Seif

1½ hours

50 dumplings

Photography: Dor Kedmi

Jaffa-born cook Nadir Abu-Seif learned how to prepare this dish of meat-filled dumplings poached in yogurt from her father. Today, she prefers her own rendition, making the dumplings very small and baking them before they’re dropped into the soup. She also adds mint to the yogurt as it cooks and a bit more just before serving. There is no such thing as too much, she says. “It’s the magic of the dish, it’s where all the flavor comes from. At first my dad resisted, but now he does the same thing.”

Peer into Nadir Abu-Seif’s Jaffa kitchen.

Meat | Palestinian Cooking | Soup

Ingredients

  • For the filling
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 8.8 ounces / 250 grams ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • For the dough
  • 8.8 ounces / 250 grams flour, plus more for dusting
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon dry yeast
  • Approx. ¾ cup (180ml) water
  • For the soup
  • 3 cups (750ml) cow milk yogurt (6.5% fat)
  • 1½ tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil, for frying
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
  • ½ tablespoon dried mint, plus more for serving

Preparation

  1. Prepare the filling: Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and fry slowly until caramelized and golden brown. Add the ground beef, allspice, salt, and pepper and fry until the meat browns, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon or fork. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. Prepare the dough: Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the water and knead into a soft and elastic dough. Roll out on a well-floured surface to a ¼-inch / 4-mm thick sheet. Cut into circles, 2.5-inches / 6-cm in diameter.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C. In the center of each dough circle, place ½ teaspoon of the filling and fold in half to form a crescent. Press the edges tightly and fold to seal (as you would in making making tortellini). Arrange the dumplings in a single layer on a greased pan and bake for 12 minutes, until just lightly golden.
  4. Prepare the yogurt soup: Heat the yogurt in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the flour and salt while continuously blending with an immersion blender. To prevent the yogurt from breaking, make sure to continuously stir the soup over a gentle simmer and not to let it reach a boil. Add the water and blend. Lightly fry the chopped garlic cloves in a little oil and add to the soup.
  5. Assemble and serve: Add the dumplings to the yogurt soup (while it is cooking) and gently stir. Add the dried mint while stirring, bring to a gentle simmer and cook 5-7 minutes, until the dumplings soften.
  6. Pour into deep bowls, sprinkle with more dried mint, and serve.

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