Tartoussi cuisine is inconspicuous, even in Syria that is. Anyone who's been here will tell you that we make out of this world fish but I think seafood is great in all coastal cities around the world. Ignorance about our local entrées though does not necessarily mean that we don't have some of the yummiest dishes in Syria. It's more a testimony of our quiet nature, the writer of this blog not included. We're not loud like the Damascene. We're not vocal like the Aleppine. We are neither funny nor too self-conscious like the Homsis or the Hamwis respectively. We're simple folks who love Mezza, barbequed chicken and Arak. And when we want to be gluttonous we feast on Burghul.

Well just to be sure no reader takes this post as an indication of false modesty, no one in Syria, and I repeat no one, even comes close to our Wara Enab (Stuffed Grape Leaves) but that is another story which had already been proven and laid to rest.

Today's dish is called Keddabat and unless some of you prove me wrong it is a very local Tartoussi/Arwadi recipe unknown beyond Al-Thawra Street in Tartous.

  • Fine Burghul 2 cups (Cracked Wheat): sold in most Middle Eastern food stores
  • All purpose flour 2 cups
  • Olive oil ½ cup + 2 tablespoons to saute the onion
  • Swiss Chard a few chopped leaves (for stuffing the larger Keddabat)
  • Onion 1 diced
  • Garlic 4 cloves
  • Parsley 2 tablespoons finely chopped after thorough washing
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


  • Wash the burghul under running water then keep in strainer for 15 minutes.
  • In a blender crush the burghul until it becomes powdery.
  • Mix the burghul and the flour and roll in semi-wet hands into small balls (see picture).
  • For the larger Keddabat: Saute the diced onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until tender (don't let them turn golden in color). Chop the Swiss Chard after washing it thoroughly with water and add a dash of salt. Mix onions and Swiss Chard together and use it as stuffing for the larger Keddabat. It's not as difficult as it looks to make them and to stuff them. Just keep your hands a little wet and practice, practice, practice.
  • In a bowl bring 6 cups of water to boil. Add the Keddabat (small and large: on the average for every 10 small unstuffed ones you should have one large stuffed one). Keep over medium high heat for 10 minutes then remove Keddabat and drain and put aside.
  • Keep 4 cups of the boiled water (throw away the rest). Add ½ cup Debes Remman (Pomegranate Molasses), ½ cup olive oil, crushed garlic and some finely chopped parsley and stir well.
  • Return the Keddabat to the sauce.
  • Serve hot or cold. I eat it with a spoon like soup. Uuuummmm if you do it right you'll know what's the big deal about being a tartoussi :-)
And, ehem... the red sauce you see on top is Tabasco.


BIL said…

This sounds like a wonderful dish and will try my hand at preparing it over the next days. Someone:-) introduced me to the many ways Burghul can be prepared, and must say I am enjoying the cuisine tremendously. I will have to see if our Mid East store in this outpost of a town has all the proper ingredients. I am waiting to see if it tastes as good as it looks, but then again when all else fails, (talking about my cooking) there is ALWAYS Tabasco to the rescue!
Say Hello to all, and hope the World traveler is resting well after the long trip.
Gabriela said…
I'm in debt with you and your delicious recipes, my friend. I always tell you "I have to try this"... but I never get to.
This dish sounds great. I won't be making any promises this time. But I can assure you, you'll be notified as soon as I accept the challenge and prepare one of your mouthwatering recipes.
Anonymous said…
Excellent,As Always!
Thanks ever so much.
Karin said…
Thanks so much dear friend - it does and look sound exceptionally YUMMY!
As I am relocating to Albuquerque in less than two weeks (this time for good!) I have a fantastic Middle Eastern food store close to me which carries all the mentioned items! During the countless time I shopped there the owners (Palestinians) and I got to know one another and we became friends so - nothing will hinder me to try out the recipe!
Did Maha prepare that? Tell her she's a fantastic cook!!!
Unknown said…
Ah, secrets from the busy yet modest and retiring kitchens of Tartous! If it weren't for you Abufares, these sweet recipes would be hidden from the rest of the world for another 1000 years. ;) This one sounds great...although I'm betting the first try does not produce what you have photographed here! I might try it one day when I'm feeling brave. Thank you so much for sharing - although watch your back! You might have an angry mob of Tartoussi cooks after you for divulging their secret recipes! :D
Abufares said…
Burghul, in addition to be a most delicious cereal, has an optimal nutritional index.
I think you can pull it off over a lazy weekend and I would very much like to hear about your experience.

Tabasco is to food what Aspirin is to health care. I really splash it over everything (3 times a day)
Abufares said…
Well how about this?
You post a simple Peruvian recipe (by simple I mean one of more or less universal ingredients) on your blog so that I can give it a try.
My experience with Latin food is mainly with the Mexican cuisine which I love more than any other. A few years ago I introduced the kids to Tacos, Burritos and Enchiladas (with pre-mixed spices and/or ready sauces unfortunately) and they too fell in love with it.
I never had Peruvian and would very much like to give it a try. Of course once in Lima we can go together to your favorite joint and have a taste of the real thing.
Abufares said…
Thank you for being here. Always my pleasure.
Abufares said…
Albuquerque is where Bugs Bunny should've taken that decisive left turn :-)
It's a great city that I've known en passant. I wish you the best of luck there and don't do anything I wouldn't do myself ;-)
This dish of excellent Keddabat was prepared by my friend Om Shadi, a very traditional and down to earth Tartoussieh cook. Whenever I crave a very basic and authentic local bite I turn to her :-)
Abufares said…
I'm doing to Tartoussi cuisine what Dan Brown did to the Vatican. I hope they don't send me an Arwadi albino giant and try to make soup with my ...

Keddabat is a favorite of mine. I specially like it after exercise. You know how one gets hungry after a session or 2 of strenuous workout and feel like he/she can eat a whole cow?

To open the fridge and find a full bowl of cold Keddabat smelling of garlic and onions with the sour taste of pomegranate, the texture of burghul rolling in the mouth and a fling of Swiss Chard melting on the tongue
mmmmm mmmmmm
Pabulum for the body and soul!
Sean said…
Super! Thanks for posting, Abufares. Vegetarian, to boot - I'll be giving it a try over the next few days...
Rocco said…
Sounds like a delicious dish indeed. Reminds me very much of a dish I had in Damascus and Aleppo many many many years ago it was called Kibbet al Raheb or Kibebat al Raheb (Kibbet of the Monks or Priests)named that way because it is suitable for the lent period, no meat. It is a Lenten dish where the recipe of the burgul balls includes less flour, shredded onions, parsley (optional), bhar, salt and pepper. The broth is similar but contains sauteed slivered onions and chopped chards. No large stuffed balls though.
I had another dish in northern Lebanon they call "Addas bi Hammod"
Similar to kibbet al Raheb but has whole lentils in the broth, Slivered onions, chopped chards and lemon juice instead of molasses. with kibbet balls similar to yours. it is also a Lenten dish.
It has nothing to do with the Aleppean (Aleppian) "Addas bi Hammod) not even close.
If I remember my Syrian dialects correctly, does kaddabat mean Liars? or Fakes? (looks like kibbet but no meat?)
Abufares said…
A true vegetarian delight.
I would like to hear about it when you give it a try.
Abufares said…
I think the dishes you mentioned are local variations of the same "no-meat/lent" theme.
I also am delighted that you unraveled the origin of the words Keddabat (from Lying). Since I posted this blog yesterday I almost asked everyone around me what the word meant and they all assumed that it's about "Balls".
Many thanks for your visit.
Joseph said…
Massa el kheir, Abufares. Yislamo 2eedeik.
I'm on the train. I'm so hungry I could eat my iPhone. I'm so envious, I'm not going to talk to you! lol
Alf sa7a whanna.
Abufares said…
Massa El-Nour
Well I know that you got home after the train ride and had a table full of delicious Mezza and a Kass Arak :-)

BIL said…
Yes, I did in fact try this savory dish and must say it was everything I was waiting for. I did however, have a problem with the Burghul getting it to come out like flour. I just used it as it was purchased from the Mediterranean Store (the #1 fine variety). Other than that one small set back everything went well. I also made that fine NY Strip Steak we talked about to complement the Keddabat MMMMMMMMM!! Thanks for the tip and have a pleasant trip and return safe. BIL
Joseph said…
Wishful thinking, Abufares. I had a pizza.. Pepperoni, and if size matters, it was medium! lol. I haven't had a proper Mezza and a Kass Arak for a long while now.
I'm still envious and I'm still not talking to you. lol
Have a beautiful day.
Tony said…
hi Abu Fares! Keefak? yeslamou eedak 3ala hal tabkha al taybe :D I have never had this dish before, but it reminds me a lot of kbeebat (كبيبات) (smeed+burghol dough stuffed with kefta filling and boiled). Thank for sharing, my friend, w sa7tein!
Also, please wish Um Fares a Happy Mother's day from me and my sito :D I hope all is going well for you and your family
Abufares said…
Hello dear friend
Sorry I'm late replying to your comment. I was traveling.
Thank you for your kind and warm words.
Ammoontie said…
Hello Abu Fares,
This sure looks yummy, but unfortunately I cant find most of the ingredients here. I can only dream !
Abufares said…
I hope you get to give it a try one of these days. Again, it's not fancy but so darn good ;-)
Sean said…
I did it! Rather later than planned - I've been very busy with work lately. I loved the filling and the sauce, but I don't think I made the actual keddabat themselves very well - they were very tough, chewy and doughy, which I don't think is right. I'm sure it was my lack of technique than your recipe or the dish, though. I can make a mean muhallabia which - I think - isn't too far off something you'd find in Damascus. But my keddabat - I'm certainly not going to be threatening anyone on al-Thawra St any time soon.

It still made a really nice meal though - I raided one of the Lebanese supermarkets on Edgware Road, and had the keddabat with some makdous, pickled cucumbers, Nabuls and labneh balls, all washed down with a lovely bottle of Kefraya.

I'll definitely have to try a proper version of keddabat next time I'm in Tartous.

Thanks again for posting the recipe.
Abufares said…

Sorry for my late reply to your comment. I was traveling abroad. I'm so happy you gave it a try and as per your photo on FB it does look great.
If they tasted too doughy they might've needed more cooking that's all.

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