My accolade of the coastal Syrian cuisine is coming brazenly to a riotous gastronomical climax. Some of the provincial dishes I have already described and certainly the topic of today have been underrated for generations in
despite being the most ubiquitous. The truth of the matter is that the Damascene are the loudest when it comes to promoting themselves, followed closely by the Aleppine, then the Homsis and Hamwis as distant thirds and fourths. I have already unfeathered (natafet reech) the Damascene as being on par with the Lebanese when it comes to their notorious egotism. If left to their own devices, they might go as far as alleging that God Almighty comes from the Midan area. The Aleppine, whimsically gifted with robust yet supple vocal cords, had put their Tarab to self-serving use and advanced their city to the entire Arab world as not only the Mecca of authentic Mousika Sharkieh (Oriental Music) but of delicious food as well. The Homsis and Hamwis stubbornly pushed forward in their relentless quest to perfect their bombastic sweets until they succeeded in raising diabetes levels in the whole country. Have you ever wondered what sort of gargoyle conjured the Sha'aybiyat (شعيبيات)? Notice that the damn word doesn’t even have a singular form. They are always Sha'aybiyat in plural, never one Sha'aybieh. Legend has it that a Rastan native with a Homsi for a father and a Hamwieh for a mother created the first monstrosity. Syria
Only the modest, hardworking and nonsensical coastal Tartoussis (and to a lesser extent their bitter neighbors the Lattakians) silently endowed the Syrian cuisine with the bare essentials conceived by their good nature and fertile earth. In a moment of pure ecstasy, a carnivore fisherman and a beautiful vegetarian maiden from the mountains consummated their love and introduced flesh (meat or poultry) to Burghul . While the landlocked Syrians were still trying to come to grip with our earlier invention, the Mjadra, we were making headways in our hedonistic pursuit of the ultimate Syrian dish: Burghul b Hummus with either Lahme (meat) or Farrouj (chicken).
Forget about silverware, china and hors d'oeuvre. Get yourself a Kas'aa (قصعة) and a Khashouka (خاشوقة) (in coastal mountains dialect = Metal bowl and a spoon), and let’s party.
Ingredients: 1 whole chicken, 1 large onion, 1 large cut onion, water to completely cover the chicken, salt, pepper, 1 carrot, 5 to 6 cinnamon sticks, 1 teaspoon cardamom, 2 cups coarse Burghul, 1 cup boiled chickpeas (Hummus) and olive oil
How to Prepare:
-Bring to boil a whole clean chicken, a carrot, the uncut onion, salt and pepper, a few sticks of cinnamon and a little cardamom. Reduce heat to medium, cover and let cook for 90 minutes (or until done). The carrot and onion are thrown away and used only to absorb any undesired taste or smell.
-Remove chicken and drain. Keep the broth on the side.
-Rinse 2 cups of coarse Burghul then place into a strainer.
-In the pot to be used to cook the Burghul, braise the cut onion in 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil until tender. Add the Burghul, mix well, top with 2 ½ cups of the chicken broth, cover and heat over medium for 10 minutes. Add the pre-boiled or separately boiled tender chickpeas (Hummus). Mix again, cover for 5 minutes then remove from heat.
-Present in any type of ware or in the cooking pot and spread the de-boned chicken in pieces and chunks on top. Pour a generous amount of virgin olive oil (4 to 6 tablespoons as per preference) and serve along with raw onions, yogurt, pickles and
if you want to go all the way. Arak
-Unbuckle your belt, kick off your shoes, take a nap, wake up, wash your mouth with a cold slice of watermelon then you’re free to be whatever you were before you had Burghul b Hummus. You've just earned your right of passage to being accepted as a real Ibn Balad. Welcome to Tartous!