Defying the Blogspot Block with Grub

Blogspot is now completely blocked in Syria. I mean I was able until yesterday to access it directly through one remaining service provider. Not anymore, as I have to join my heroic blogging comrades in sneaking our way around proxies and firewalls. However, once you and the blockers read this post and dozens of harmless posts on other Syrian blogs you and they (the wiseass blockers) will discover the wisdom behind their draconian action. This is dangerous stuff I’m talking about here. George W. Bush and company might consider recipes (especially if they originate from the Middle East) to be inherently terroristic in nature. Dough and yogurt, if mixed in a certain manner, might inadvertently lead to nuclear energy thus might pose a danger to the free world and undermine the cultural integrity of White Anglo Saxons. On the other hand, from the point of view of the Syrian Blocker, Fatteh and Kishek could and should be classified as national heritage and their secrets kept within the country. It is a matter of national security and no blogger should have, at her own whim, the authority to expose and discuss the intricacies of Tabbouleh.
Be that as it may, before Ramadan slips away from the fingers of time and to get out of the foul mood we’ve been going through, I thought I’d better share one more food related post and perhaps whet your appetite.
Nothing fancy this time, instead I’ll present a series of photos illustrating a very recent Iftar (breaking of the fast at sunset) with the family along with a brief description of the various entrees. In case you are interested in any single full recipe, please let me know and I’ll be more than glad to oblige.

These are cigar shaped (Churchill size: 20 cm long) dough rolls. They are stuffed with sautéed ground lamb meat, onion and sumacs (1/2 kg of ground beef, 1 chopped onion, 2 tablespoon sumacs, salt). The rolls are fried in vegetable oil until light gold (barely a few minutes). Great appetizer, especially liked by the little ones.

Manaish Bi Zaatar:
Dried thyme (prepared and mixed with coarse powder-crushed nuts, spices and sesame seeds at home or bought ready anywhere in the Middle East & in delicatessens aboard) topped, stirred with olive oil and spread on dough. Place in oven until done (shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes). Great choice for breakfast and enjoyed particularly with tea.

A great Middle Eastern salad. Not Lebanese, not Syrian, not Jordanian but Levantine. Awesome taste universally enjoyed by women for reasons beyond comprehension. Tabbouleh is prepared by mixing parsley, wheat, tomato, onion, lemon juice and olive oil, all at the right proportions I might add.

Fatteh Bi Hommos:
You can check out this previous post of mine to get an idea on how to prepare this culinary masterpiece. This is an everyday Ramadan entrée for most Tartoussis.

Ftireh Bi Keshek:
This is an original Tartoussi pie. It’s mainly prepared in certain villages in the region and some elderly women in town. We had never made it at home but have the good fortune of knowing an old lady who lives nearby. We send her the flour and olive oil. From her end, she provides the Keshek, onions, peppers & spices, prepares the pies and then sends them to be baked at an old fashioned firewood bakery. Later on in the afternoon, her son drops by bringing the magnificent goodies with him. This is an absolute favorite of mine. I like it hot from the oven or cold, two or three days later. Kishek is prepared from whole wheat and yogurt and dried the old fashioned way on the roof of the house. I can’t imagine life without it and you wouldn’t too, once you try a Ftireh Bi Keshek.

Fasoulieh Khadra (Loubieh) Bi Lahme:
½ Kg Lamb meat (salted & spiced) heated in a skillet till light brown. 3 cups of water, spices, cardamom, cinnamon, 1 whole onion, 1 whole carrot and salt are added and cooked for 1 hour until meat is tender. 1 chopped onion sautéed in 2 tablespoon butter till tender and soft. Add Green beans over low fire for ½ hour. Then the meat is added with 2 cups of sauce for 1 hour over medium-low heat. Served with rice and delllllllicious.

Chicken Legs & Potatoes in the Oven:
A simple international cuisine entrée easily prepared in a hundred and one different ways. Always welcomed and appreciated by the the hungry mobs.

Sheikh El Mehshi:
The innards of Zucchini and/or Squash are removed with a special utensil (or the handle of a tablespoon). It takes some practice in order not to ruin the vegetable, but basically the tool is moved in one quarter of a circle in both directions to excavate the Zucchini/Squash. What comes out is not thrown away but rather prepared as another entrée. The empty pieces are then stuffed with ground lamb meat, chopped onions and pine nuts and cooked in yogurt sauce. Rice is served along. This is absolutely fantastic. But I am biased. I’m in love with all food cooked in yogurt.

Let me be the first to wish you all a very Happy Eid Fitr and Kol 3am Wa Antom Bi Kheir. And, to the blocker(s) "Allah Ykaberlekom 3a2lekom".


Anonymous said…
What a delicious iftar spread. I havent heard of
"zengol", but from your description, I think it is nice..I could almost imagine the taste !
Here too I would like to take the opportunity to wish you and your family a very Happy Eid Fitri. I am looking forward to see your next post about the food that you prepare for Eid...!
david santos said…

Wanted: search for this man photographed sexually abusing children
INTERPOL is seeking the help of the public to try to identify this man, photographed sexually abusing children in a series of images posted on the Internet.
The photos shown here are from a series of around 200 pictures involving 12 different young boys, believed to have been taken in Vietnam and Cambodia in 2002 or 2003.
These pictures have been produced by specialists from Germany’s federal police force, the Bundeskriminalamt, working from originals found on the Internet, which had been digitally altered to disguise the man’s face.
Extensive police efforts worldwide to identify the man have so far failed and Interpol is now enlisting the support of the media and the public to help identify him as a priority.
Anyone with information on his identity or whereabouts should contact their local police or INTERPOL’s Trafficking in Human Beings Unit via email.
KJ said…
Mashalla mashlla.. kel had ftoor? I just have soup, samboosak and some light rice-based meal (like chicken and rice). Otherwise it will be soup + fatteh only or soup + sheikh el me7shi :S

Yalla sa7tein man w kel 3am w enet bkheir. Inshalla tomorrow night (technically after tomorrow early morning) I will be in Damascus. Man seriously you can't imagine how much longing I feel. I can't wait to breathe fresh air. I really do belong on a mountain or in a field.

I will be calling you inshalla akeed. I will probably postpone returning to this shit hole, and would stay five more days in Syria - giving me plenty of time to do more stuff.
Dubai Jazz said…
What a delicious looking photos! And a nice way to wrap up Ramadan on a smooth note! I must admit that I haven't heard of Zengol before, it looks like a tanned and more crancky version of Berak, although Berak are much smaller in size (10 to 12 CM) lol!!

Allow me to be a bit nosy abu fares and say that it seems that the recruiting for the noble human cause have taken a new dimension, ta3rof 3la sewar we ma sewar?.. hale2 hada al zalameh abu david 3abe7ki jad wela 3abemze7? Wa7ed dayoth bel7a2 wlad be al veitnam shou ra7 yejebo 3la souria la 7ata net3aref 3leeh?


KJ, how long will you be staying there? I will be there by the end of this month. If you happen to pass by Aleppo, make sure to drop me a line. It would be nice to meet up…
شو هالاجرام هادا؟
يعني والله عيب
ناس بتفطر سندويشة لبنة وناس بتفطر عكل ضرس لون.
بالفعل ما عاد في رحمة
Anonymous said…
What a brilliant and hilarious way to point out the stupidity of this block ;-)
saint said…
Abu Fares,
Sir, Google is too big, taking blogspost is like taking the whole continent from the map, and this way you like living before Columbus time.

I hope the blockers will be seduced with the variety of mouthwatering delicious table you have served. And to my knowledge, their taste is not migrated to the Cordon Blue and Caviar yet, I try to think that they still like Tabouleh, and Fatti Bel Homess.

And I would like to add my voice to you and say that you are the last link left to us with homeland. I wait for your post endlessly, and as far as I know the blockers have kids outside the country and they may be our neighbor here in the USA. So, please please blockers have mercy on us and do not sentence us for ever.
Have a happy Ramadan, Abu Fares
saint said…
I forgot to say, Sheikh El Mehshi is my favorite. Thank you for psoting it, this is the king's food. I'm going to call my mom and ask her to make it and eat it without me.
Maysaloon said…
I just finished licking my monitor...
The Syrian Brit said…
Delightful.. Delicious!..
Interestingly, Zengol in Damascus is a larger version of the sweet known as '3awwameh'.. Being someone who is not particularly interested in sweets, I would probably prefer the Tartoussi version!..
Abufares said…
@ ammoontie
I can assure you that Zengol is great. I have nver prepared it with my own hands but I know it\'s very easy to make and terrific to taste.
Eid Mubabrak to you and yours.
Abufares said…
@ David
I promise you one thing. If this man ever get near Tartous, we\'ll catch him and beat the crap out of him till he wouldn\'t be able to tell his ass from his disgusting face.
Happy Eid Fitr!
Abufares said…
@ KJ
Welcome back KJ.
I would really love to hear from you once you\'re here.
Kol 3am Wa Anta Bi Kheir.
Abufares said…
@ Dubai Jazz
Zengol tastes different because it has no cavity. It\'s rolled almost like a small sandwich and the sumacs taste with the meat is greeeeat. I add Tabasco bite by bite.
Fitr Sa3eed.
Abufares said…
AND @ Dubai Jazz
I\'m always behind David in his noble confrontation with evil. And, I think you wouldn\'t object if we assure him that if this despicable man ever reaches Aleppo you and the Shabab would know how to handle him Bil Sarami...
Abufares said…
@ أمنية
وحياة عينك كانت مناسبة. يعني صحيح ما فيه إلا الأخوة والأهل بس ما معقولة يفطروا سندويشة لبنة!!! على كل حال، شرفينا بطرطوس لنقوم بالواجب وحبة مسك
Abufares said…
@ yaman
Welcome over Ya Zalami. There is a Tartoussi Proverb which perfectly describes the BLOCK. (sorry for being explicit, but this is how we are on the Sahel).
قال واحد منشان يبعص جارو، حط أصبعو بطيز حالو

Kol 3am Wa Anta Bi 1000 Kheir.
Abufares said…
@ saint
The government\'s inability to solve problems makes it incapable of accepting criticism. By silencing a whole group of people, \"against you, with you and don\'t give a damn about you\" just so the \"against you\" are silenced is the epitome of social and political stupidity, naivety and immaturity.
May they eat Falafel (and nothing else) till they get some sense back.
And, Sheikh El Mehshi is a favorite of mine as well. In addition, in Tartous we make Kousa Bi Laban, a variation where the Koussa is stuffed with meat and rice together.
Abufares said…
@ Wassim
Wala 3ala Balak Ya Zalami!
Drop by anytime (I know it\'s harder said than done) and I\'ll prepare the table myself.
Happy Fitr.
Abufares said…
@ Syrian Brit
We have the same kind of sweets in Tartous but can\'t remember the name. I\'m not a sweet man myself ;-)and prefer to fill my stomach with real food.
Happy Eid Fitr to you and all of the family.
Dubai Jazz said…
Of course, in Aleppo we would receive the culprit with Saramy and much more, but it is highly unlikely that he would be able to make it past Idleb to Aleppo. He is sure to get a different kind of 'treat' from ikhwanna al adalebeh….;)
saint said…
Thank you Abu Fares, I know your feeling.
Now let’s talk serious, your Ftireh Bi Keshek caught my wife’s eye and she begged me to ask you to write the recipe for this strange dish. We love Keshek, we call it Kesheke, and this could be a nice recipe for me since I cannot the eat the kesheke soup which I love, because it causes me heart burn, and I stays watching on the table when she serve the Kesheke soup which made from kesheke, onion, garlic and dried mint, boiled in water.
Abufares said…
Listen to this:
You need to prepare dough similar to the one used for Manaish bi Zaatar. Enough to spread 3 x 14\" circles.
For this quantity you need 1 kg of coarse Keshek (in small balls).
Soak in warm water then drain completely and let dry for about an hour.
If the Keshek is still lumpy, we can (by hand) squeeze it to make it turn into a Burghul-like substance.
You can add 1 onion (very finely chopped) or without as per your preference. I, myself don\'t like the taste of onions with the Keshek but most people use it.
Add 1/3 cup of olive oil and red pepper paste (2 to 3 full tablespoons - hot or mild as per your preference) and thoroughly mix well by hand.
spread the dough and use 1/3 of the quantity per 14\" piece. Top the keshek then fold the dough as if you are rolling Wara2 3inab and squeeze flat, then spread again. Repeat 3 times so that the Keshek is well mixed with the dough.
Place in oven and bake like a pizza (roughly 10 minutes needed) if your oven fits more than one piece then do so.
Of course if you are going through all this pain, you\'d better work on 2 to 3 kilos of Keshek to make it worthwhile.
Please give it a try and let me know. Sa77a Wa Hana
Eid Saeed.
The Syrian Brit said…
'..and she begged me to ask you...'
My wife does not 'beg' me.. she simply commands!..
Dubai Jazz said…
Wish you and the readers of your blog an auspicious Eid al Fiter..:)
saint said…
Dear Sir SB, you know my commanding manner never stop working unconsciously, and you my friend stripped me naked. So I lied.

On the other hand, I have to admit on this instance that I admire your frank attitude towards your family and you are the first Syrian or even Middle Eastern, I got to know who is a not shy to praise his wife in a post (which was the best post for this year) and if there is an award for this, you my friend are the winner.

So now you may guess that I’m old. Thank you for straighten me up.
Thanks Abu Fares for the reciepe.
Happy Eid to All.
Anonymous said…
Or, you could bring a real dilema to the idiotic blockers, making them rue the day they banned blogspot; fill the blogs with praise about the regime, the government, the "elites" and wax poetic on Syria's steadfastness being admired by everyone abroad.

The problem is, somebody would actually have to write all this, and I can't see any volunteers.

Alf sahha - now that's what I call an iftar! Will we get a post about the delights of Eid foods, or will we all be too full to write or read about them?

Happy Eid Fitr to everyone.
Abufares said…
Saint & Syrian Brit
We are all in the same boat together. The real Abadai is the one who openly admits it (i.e. Syrian Brit).
I brag and brag but there's hot air only underneath this bubble.
Happy Eid.
Abufares said…
You are asking for the impossible. Al volunteers Al.
I'll have my camera ready for the Eid and one I see or eat something worth sharing you will all hear about it/
Kol 3am Wa Anti Bi Kheir.
Abufares said…
Dubai Jazz
Happy Eid
Call me as soon as you get to Haleb.
Karin said…
We are having today the last day of Ramadan here in the US and alone to LOOK at those pictures, makes me hungry!!
I observed it all (have to add ONE day though sometime soon) - alone. It's very sad to have to sit alone at Futour-time to break the fast and eat ... but it's (almost) over.

Life's tough lately, very tough - will elaborate via letter! I'm hanging in there though ...

WHY did they close "blogspot"?? I can't imagine it posed ANY threat ...
That is awful ... and to what you say about George W., I can only wholeheartedly agree!!

EIT al-FITR MUBARAK - to you and your wonderful loved ones!!
Abufares said…
I miss you so much.
You have to forgive me for being "lazy", meaning not keeping properly in touch.
Eid Fitr Saeed to you my dear friend. We're almost done with our 30th and final day of fasting in Syria. I have spent the whole day so far in bed with my laptop. I intend on celebrating later on tonight.
Take care and "you are always on my mind".
Highlander said…
Eid Mabrouk ya Abufares and what lovely food - Iwanted your advice on how to be able to read and blog on blogspot from Syria. Can you please email to me ? (
Shannon said…
These recipes were dangerous for my waistline. I'm glad the blockers are looking out for my diet.


I'm sorry I haven't been able to comment as much as I'd like to. I hope you're able to keep blogging and causing such international turmoil with your food. :)
Paige said…
Yum....Maybe someday we'll live in a world where I can come and visit, we can blog in peace,and we won't be treated as outlaws. Eid Mubarak!
Abufares said…
Eid Moubarak to you and to all the good people of Libya.I hope to be able to see you once you are in Syria.
Abufares said…
Don't be sorry, we just miss you when we don't hear from you.
BTW, the Green beans with meat is such an easy dish to prepare. It was one of my emergency backups when I was in the States (that is when I miss Syrian food).
Just be sure to remove the strand of fiber on both longitudinal axis of the green beans before you cook. It might sound like hard work but it's barely a 10 to 15 minute job.
Abufares said…
I hope to God that your wish comes true. And, when you make it to this part of the word, please give me a holler.
Anonymous said…
Dear Abu Fares,
I have tried to look for the 'zengol' recipes online but to no avail. Would you please help me ? It looks nice and crispy and should taste as good.
Thank you and Eid Mubarak...
Abufares said…
@ ammoontie
Zongol is prepared by rolling dough in small sized sandwiches. Use regular dough, the same you use for pizza, manaish, snabousek, etc.
Heat the 1/2 kg of ground lamb meat (mafroumeh) in skillet and add 1 finely chopped onion until light brown. Sprinkle with 1 to 2 tablespoon of sumacs, a little salt, mix well, turn heat off and throw away the juices. Prepare dough rectangles (about 20 X 10 cm and fill longitudinally with meat and roll exactly like s sandwich of peta bread (khebez Arabi) Fry in vegetable oil until light gold (barely a few minutes). Place on paper napkin to absorb excess oil before serving. Eaten hot or cold, delicious either way.
Give it a try, you can can't go wrong. If you think the sumacs was too much or too little, adjust accordingly next time.
Lujayn said…
Abu Fares, Eid Fitr Mubarak. No comments doesnt mean I'm not checking your blog very often. Thanks for sharing and looking forward to the unrestrained, uncensored posts of post-Ramadan!
Abufares said…
@ Lujayn
It shouldn't be long before I get back to blogging. Just give me sometime to digest all the food I gobbled over the Eid.
Happy to hear from you.
Anonymous said…
Dear Abu Fares,
Thank you for the recipe. Sounds easy enough.
Oh my LORD!

I haven't been to your blog in ages and when I come you have posted alll my favourite shaami dishes! I nearly fell off my chair, sho taybeh!

Kol sanah wa enta tayyeb!
Abufares said…
Shaykhspeara Sha'ira
Welcome back!
Sahha Wa Hana. I hope that what you mean by Shaami is Bilad Al-Sham and not only Damascus :-)
Anonymous said…
Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!
Anonymous said…
is zengol only found in your town or throughout syria, and the filling has black pepper too right?
Abufares said…
I think Zengol is a Tartoussi delicacy. It's made with sumac and that's the dark color you are referring to.

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