SYRIA: Shish Barak



Ready In:

1h 40min

Good For:

Main or Side Dish


About this Recipe

By: Fatima

Shish Barak is a traditional dish made in several Middle Eastern/Asian countries, including Syria. The dish consists of meat dumplings cooked in a yogurt-based stew. Shish Barak has been a part of Arabic cuisine for centuries!

Fatima shared this recipe from her home country, Syria. She arrived to Pittsburgh as a refugee with her husband and children in 2016. She is known among her friends and community as being a great cook!

*adapted from Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen recipe

syria on a map


Shish Barak Dough

  • 5 cups of multipurpose flour
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 and 1/4 cups of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1/2 cup of warm water (to melt the yeast)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sugar (to melt with yeast)

Meat Stuffing

  • 1 lb of lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon of Lebanese 7-spices
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt (to taste)
  • 2 small red onions finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • Some Olive Oil


A very similar dish called joshpara is found in Central Asian, Turkic, and Persian cultures. While both variations contain meat-filled dumplings, the yogurt sauce sets the Arabic dish apart from the other versions; however, modern editions of this recipe sometimes substitute chicken broth for the yogurt-based stew. 

Shish Barak Stew

  • 1 lb of Labneh*
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 heaping teaspoon of dried mint powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried cilantro leaves
  • 1 lemon (juiced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

*Note: If using Greek yogurt instead of Labneh, then use 5 cups of yogurt and 1 cup of water

2 dumplings of shish barak
shish barak with herbs and pine nuts


Meat Stuffing Preparation

1. Sautee the onions with a bit of olive oil until they start turning pinkish (10 mins)

2. Add the ground beef, 7-spices, salt, mix well and then sautee until the beef is cooked (10 minutes)

3. Add the pine nuts in the last 5 minutes. The meat stuffing is now ready.

Dough Preparation

1. Mix the dough ingredients in a food processor (or knead with hands) and let rest for a few minutes.

2. When ready, place dough on kitchen counter that’s been dusted with flour, and flatten into a large disk the thickness of 2 dimes (1/8th of an inch).

3. Using a bottle lid (or small cookie cutter), cut the dough into disks the size of a quarter (3/4th of an inch in diameter).

4. Place cut dough on a plate that’s been dusted with flour.

5. Place 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of meat stuffing in the center of each dough piece, fold edges in and close them on the meat, then pull edges around and fold them on one another, then flatten the sides to make it all look like a “hat” or ravioli.

6. Line up all the dumplings on a flour dusted plate

7. If you’re making extra dumplings for future use, lay dumplings on a flour dusted tray in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then pack them in small ziplog bags (about 7 – 8 oz each) and store back in freezer for a few months. Each bag (or 7 – 8 oz) of ready dumplings can make 4 servings.

Cooking Method #1 (with Labneh)

1. Pour 6 cups of water and 1 lb of labneh in a pot, mix well until all Labneh is dissolved, then place on stove over medium-low heat and keep on stirring gently until it reaches a boil, at which time you turn the heat to low.

2. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic

3. Add the dried mint powder and cilantro leaves

4. Add 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of salt (to taste)

5. Add juice from 1 freshly squeezed lemon. If you’re using goat yogurt you can skip this step.

6. Add the Shish Barak dumplings, bring the stew to a boil again, and then stir gently on low heat for 15-20 minutes until the shish barak dumplings are cooked.

7. Serve hot as a soup

Cooking Method #2 (with Greek Yogurt)

1. Pour 5 cups of plain yogurt (Greek yogurt) and 1 cup of water in a pot and stir continuously on low heat until it reaches a boil. It is very important that heat is very low and stirring is constant otherwise the yogurt may break apart and can’t be salvaged

2. Follow steps 2-7 above

Video Demonstration
Video instruction from Lebanon Easy Life