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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Burghul b Hummus


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 Syria 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.
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 Arak if you want to go all the way.
-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!

33 comments:

MadSurg said...

Hey!
Congratulations on your NET first of all. this is really a good idea. I won't have to go mad before opening this blog!

This is really worth writing about. I remember it was You that convinced me to try Burghul b Hummus for the very first time (I was a bit picky when it comes to food, eh?), and I was hooked. Now this is by far my favorite meal...

What do you think is the reason that this cannot be made with fish?

Anonymous said...

Mouthwatering, as always! How I'd love to be there now, and share those simple pleasures in family!

Bon Appetit, everyone :-)

Yazan said...

I am not succumbing to this "regionalist" attitude of our smaller southern neighbors [and I dont mean Lebanon]...

I always thought that Amhiyyeh would be the ultimate coastal dish... Amhiyyeh w Mutabal Amhiyyeh bi Laban! yummy

abufares said...

@MadSurg
Indeed why not!?
You see... that's what sets us "Tartoussis" apart. The love of adventure and experimentation. We are not afraid of the unknown. We rush in, chest first, into a Melee of raging Damascene and angry Aleppine.
By all mean, MadSurg, try it with fish and let the whole world know it by the name of Mad Burghul b Hummus.

abufares said...

@anonymous
the simple pleasures are always the most intense and endearing.

abufares said...

@Yazan
I shouldn't be biased you're right. Just because I don't care much for Kamhieh doesn't mean I shouldn't write about it. BTW, and in all honesty, Om Fares loves Kamhieh and occasionally prepares it. I have never tried it and have no idea how it tastes like.
When I do... the whole world should hear about it.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Abu Fares, this is one yummy recipe indeed. My father used to tell me when I was small: “al burghul basameer al rekeb” (burghul is like nails to your knee cap ( in a positive way)). He drew his experience from his military service it seems, where he had to cook for his roommates. For all I know he might have concocted this saying just to get away with burghul when it came to his turn in preparing food!

But despite its obvious virtues, this dish will not do for any Faj3an (disgustingly hungry) Allepine dude. He needs Zafar, Zafar ya khayyo Zafar (how the hell do I translate Zafar?). Zafar in form of sha7meh or dehenh (different forms of fat). Well maybe if instead of the olive oil several full spoon of sha7met ba’ar is used then he might, just might feel a bit satisfied!

Lujayn said...

No angry Aleppines here, Abu Fares. We are all secure in the fact that it is us, the Aleppines, that rock local cuisine - including burghul bi hummos!

abufares said...

@DJ
Your father is a wise man.
Sha7meh and dehneh!!! You can find plenty of that in the adulterated version of the original Burghul b Hummus as in the Gulf and the desert part of Syria.
They replace homegrown Burghul with imported rice due to the fact that even if they succeed in growing wheat they don't have the tradition of converting raw materials into edible delicacies.
Let me get to Lujayn now :-)

abufares said...

@Lujayn
You rock as much as you want and continue your contribution to the fancy side of Syrian cuisine. But pardon me, when it comes to Burghul b Hummus and other down to earth recipes we are unmatched. Even if we disregard the actual social differences, our environments, and despite the short distance, are world apart.
Consider for instance the olive agriculture of Idlib. They have succeeded in cultivating a much higher yield but their olives and their olive oil will never get even close in terms of real taste to the crop of a neglected tree in our mountains.
Your cuisine is certainly more elaborate, varied and sophisticated and this is the exact antithesis of a good Burghul b Hummus plate.
Even the additions of Om Fares (cardamom and cinnamon) are not original and are being used to cover the Zankha of the Farrouj because it is not Baladi but an Ibn Haram from an overcrowded hatchery.
I know you will get back with an even more "convoluted" comment... but that's the fun of it.

Lujayn said...

Abu Fares, ya Abu Fares, with all due respect (and this has nothing to do with the respect I paid you in your previous post), Tartous doesn’t have the monopoly on down-to-earth recipes. You forget Aleppo doesn’t have just one culinary tradition. It’s a melting pot of cultures and people, and each has brought in their own recipes and cuisines into this mix. I can speak for two I am very familiar with and these are the Armenian and Syriac traditions. Both are down-to-earth, and simple, with burghul, for example, a staple in their cuisine. Burghul makes up the backbone of plenty of our stuffed dishes, mjadara, burghul ahmar (naturally), hamdiyeh (a burghul, sumac and parsley soup) and a dish called “eech” which couldn’t get more rustic if it tried. Unmatched. my lower right extremity!!!!

Convoluted? Me?????? :))))

abufares said...

@Lujayn
Nice differentiation between the 2 types of respect.
"Go ahead", as Clint Eastwood had once said, "make my day".
Write and tell us about these down to earth recipes instead of keeping them all to yourselves and bragging about Aleppo. You see, this is a clear example of our simplicity. We know something... We share it with the whole world. No secret recipes, no mysterious ingredients.
"Look Ma, no hands" as a young excited boy once told his distracted mother when he rode his bicycle with no hands on the handlebar!
BTW, which lower extremity?

Lujayn said...

Itsy bitsy teeny weeny little problem, Abu Fares. I cant cook to save my life! I can sure brag though!

And in case there was any misunderstanding, I was talking about my foot!

DUBAI JAZZ said...

On a slightly related note Abu Fares, I find it quite appropriate right now to spell out my utter distaste for the whole business of ‘up-market’ restaurants. I mean what all the fuss is about? As a simple minded fellow, I do not really fancy sitting in a leather seat in a joint with wood-paneled walls and look completely foolish and clueless as I flip through a menu which requires two professional interprets to explain. Every now and then I’d oblige to a friend’s invitation to sample-test some Japanese, Chinese or Vietnamese cuisine. But that’s it, no more for me please. It gets unbearably irritating; restaurants go out of their way to celebrate their specialties. They even conduct live cooking sessions which I’d rather watch a circus juggler than to watch that idiot, smug looking of a Chef with an overturned dustbin on his head, smiling cheaply to the crowd of dumb women surrounding him, with tight almost see-through dresses spooled around their bodies. (whom from time would bend over to ‘examine’ the ingredients or ‘check’ whether the stirring is clock-wise or anti-clock-wise )

“after this is well-done, I’ll be happy to do you, Mam”

But then it’s exactly this lack of finesse that makes me unsuccessful with women?

Anonymous said...

Abufares, you made my day, I have the BERGHOL and HUMOS at home, I only have to find a natural raised cock, DIKE,is has to DIKE,
the best SHEBIAT at my opinion come from (MEMBEJ and BAB)ofcourse there is a reason for that
1-the (ACHTA or LEBE) nata, flour,comes from the sheeps milk and the east of Halab is famous for the LABAN, JEBNE,LEBE,SAMNE
2-SAMNE HADIDI(SAMNE ARABI)which is not like the (ZEBDE) that comes from the caws milk,Abufares ask any old lady which KEBE LABANIE is better , the one with caw´s LABAN or sheep´s LABAN, it´s 9.30 in the morning and I,m feeling hungry,

abufares said...

@DJ
I don't know what to do with you. Listen, in principle I agree with almost everything you wrote but this is not of any importance.
Behaving as you actually are (i.e. your lack of finesse with women) won't heart you when you eventually find a partner for life. It's better that she likes and/or accepts your nuisances and inconveniences. However, if you're out prowling for a good time you'd better play the game right... with stupid rules and all.

abufares said...

@lê
Sahha Wa Hana
I love food talk with another glutton. However, I have to let you in on a little secret. I have changed my eating habits considerably starting 3 months ago. Om Fares is not letting me get away with anything that she deems unhealthy or bad for my cholesterol level.
I used to eat one egg every morning (eggs being my favorite food). If I'm not mistaken, I probably had 3 or 4 eggs in the last 2 months.
But in principle, no dairy product matches the exquisite richness and taste of sheep's. You're absolutely right.
Sigh!

KJ said...

إلي ما أكل برغل بحمص، ماله حق يحكي إنو بيعرف شي عن الأكل!

abufares said...

@KJ
عـ راسي صافيتا

Karin said...

I'll try that out - it sounds YUMMY .. and to be called BINT(?) BALAD afterwards will be a great honor!!

E-mail with news will follow soon! :-)

saint said...

Abufares, this recipe is great for a body builder, it contain tons of proteins. For a city woman (my mother is damascene), she has never add chick peas to the Burghul even under the demand of my father (who came from Damascus Suburb), since she consider this combination is a rough peasant recipe suited their life style (discrimination not intended!). On the other hand, if she heard from you that Magadara, is a Tartosi recipe, you will picked a fight with her. Please give us proof with this claim. Cheers )

Anonymous said...

Buen provecho! You will be surprised to know that I turned out to be a very good chef. Maybe one of these days I will trade recipies with you, all though I suspect the ingredients will be a little hard to find for you and for me as well.
: (

w.b. yeats

abufares said...

@saint
You want proof that we invented Mjadra..? Well that's a tough one. I have a theory though. Any food with a hint of the outdoors, of Mezza, of Arak and of going easy in life is too simple for the intricate, calculating and sophisticated social and moral structure of Damascus and the interior of Syria.
How about that!
:-)

abufares said...

@w.b. yeats
I look forward "one of these days" when we will be able to trade more than recipes.
I too turned out to be not bad at all in the kitchen. Alas though, I'm not allowed in for the huge mess I leave behind.
As for the ingredients, I'm not sure. Most of the ingredients for the recipes I post are not that difficult to find.

Anonymous said...

Burghul & cardammom! Not possible over here!!! Remember I live in a small island in a very small town!

There are a lot of your "paisanos" from Syria and other of the middle east cultures living in the island, so maybe I will have to stop one of them and ask were are they getting their Burghul from. But, I suspect they will tell me someone sends it to them from home. Ha!

Anyway, we will get the chance to swap recipes and stories someday. We'll just have to see how life plays out. ; )

w.b. yeats

saint said...

Nope Abufares, it is not enough. If you remember JazMaz, it is so simple and made by Damascene, Fatoosh and Babaghnoog (both names are big chains now in the US) are also simple dishes. So, please find another excuse. By the way I will never call any Syrian kitchen sophisticated?
But after all it is a good try. Cheers.

kaya said...

I must confess I am not a huge burghul fan, but what i founf amazing was FRIKEH.
It has the most intense smoky flavour, and reading up on it I discovered that the green wheat is smoked, which gives it that memorable flavour.
You and I could have a lot of fun
in the kitchen
someday.
LOL

abufares said...

@kaya
ahhh...in the kitchen... i always fancied that :-)

kaya said...

Oh a query off topic.
You know on my Blooger Profile page: Why has the picture gone down, with the email address info and the profile views.
It used to be aligned with the rest of the stuff.
Any ideas?

abufares said...

@kaya
i just checked your " "... i mean your profile and it looked so good.
what i really mean is that i didn't find anything wrong with it;-)

kaya said...

LMAO!
uff Abufares you make me blush!!
is it me the? Am I just getting it out of alignment.
Methinks I need to call hubs for a bit of fine tuning....
LOL

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Isobel said...

This sounds wonderful. Mouthwatering, in fact. :) I shall try it very soon and let you know how it goes.