My shish barak recipe creates a perfect harmony of flavors. Doughy dumplings are filled with onion, nuts, and ground lamb (or beef) and served with a warm minty, spicy yogurt sauce. This dish is savory, nutty, spicy, and refreshing all at once!
Shish barak is a popular Lebanese dish. You can liken the dumpling used in this dish to tortellini or ravioli. The key players in the filling are ground lamb, pine nuts, and onion. Combined with warm Middle Eastern spices, this nutty and savory dumpling is then covered in a refreshing warm, yogurt sauce.
While the dumplings are traditionally made with lamb, you can also use beef if preferred.
The key to the delicious meat filling used in this dish is the chili paste. Sticking with our Middle Eastern flavors, Shatta can be made right at home and customized with just the right level of heat. For another hot, bold chili paste, check out my Moroccan Harissa recipe.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Filling -A deliciously seasoned combination of meat, onions, and spices:
- Ground Protein -You can use either ground lamb or beef.
- Grated Onion -White onions have a sharp, spicy flavor. Yellow or red can also be used.
- Lebanese 7 Spice-A combination of allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, white and black pepper, and coriander.
- Cumin -Pleasantly nutty, warm, rich, and sweet. Coriander or paprika can be used as a substitute.
- Chili Paste -Thick and spicy! You can use my Shatta or Harissa recipes to prepare this right at home, or use your favorite.
- Pine Nuts -When toasted, they become nutty sweet and soft. Cashews are similar in taste and texture. We will also use these in the sauce.
- Dough -A very simple mixture of flour, salt, olive oil, and water.
- Sauce - With the leftover dumpling water as a base, my shish barak yogurt sauce includes:
- Red Pepper Flakes -I prefer to use Aleppo pepper, as it is very finely ground and has a delicious flavor. But any red pepper flake can be used.
- Dried Mint -Earthy and cooling, mint is a fantastic addition to any yogurt sauce.
- Greek Yogurt -Bring to room temperature before cooking. You can also use Labneh as a substitute.
HOW TO MAKE SHISH BARAK
- Make the Filling. Press and squeeze the grated white onion to remove the excess moisture. Mix the onion with your ground protein of choice and remaining filling ingredients. Refrigerate while preparing the dumpling shells.
- Form the Dough. Combine the flour and salt, followed by the olive oil and water. Combine until it forms a dough. Add small amounts of flour at a time until you get a very smooth, workable dough. Cut the dough into two pieces, covering half with a towel.
- Shape the Shells. Roll the dough until it is 1/16” thin. Use a 3-3 ½” cookie cutter to make 20 circles out of the dough.
- Fill the Dumplings. Add 2 teaspoons of filling to the center of your circles. Fold the dough over the filling to form a half-circle and pinch the ends together. Your dumpling should resemble a tortellini. Complete this and the previous step with the other half of the dough, making a total of 40 pieces.
- Boil the Dumplings. Add the dumplings to boiling, salted water. Cook until they float all the way to the top. Reserve a ½ cup for the sauce. Drain the cooked dumplings with a colander and keep warm by covering them with a towel while making the sauce.
HOW TO MAKE YOGURT SAUCE
- Combine Dumpling Water and Yogurt. When the meat dumplings are cooked, transfer a ½ cup of the cooking water into a large bowl, then whisk in the yogurt.
- Toast the Pine Nuts. Add the nuts to a dry skillet and toast until they are a beautiful golden color. In the same pan, melt butter and toss with the mint and red pepper flakes.
- Combine All. Mix half of the pine nut mixture into the yogurt mixture. Drop the dumplings into the sauce and stir until well coated.
- Serve and Enjoy! Pour the remaining pine nut mixture over top, and serve.
How long does it take to boil meat dumplings for shish barak?
It takes less than 20 minutes for the dumplings to boil and cook through. To test and see if your dumplings are done, take one out and split it open to see if the filling is adequately cooked.
Should I use ground beef or ground lamb for meat dumplings?
It’s entirely up to you. Both proteins have a similar consistency, so they work as great substitutions for each other.
Lamb is considered healthier than beef and has more protein. It’s juicy and has a great, mild flavor.
Alternatively, ground beef is denser and has a stronger taste. Beef is also easier to find in American grocery stores and is usually less expensive. If using go with a 90/10 blend.
Yes! Freeze once you have filled the dumpling shells with the filling. When you are ready to boil them, allow them to defrost in the refrigerator first.
You can reheat leftovers in the oven, on the stovetop, or in the microwave. Enjoy!
Shish Barak (Meat Dumplings)
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 4 tablespoon butter melted
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (like Aleppo)
- ¼ teaspoon dried mint
- ½ cup water from cooking the dumplings
- 1 cup Greek yogurt or labneh room temperature
- Grate the onion on a kitchen towel, squeeze out and discard excess water, and mix onion together with remaining filling ingredients. Place in the refrigerator while making dough.
- In a bowl, mix the flour and salt together then add the olive oil and water. Mix into a dough, using a spatula or your hand, using more or less flour as needed for a smooth, elastic dough. Turn onto a clean, floured surface. Cut dough in half, cover remaining with kitchen towel.
- Roll other dough half to about 1/16-inch thin, then cut into circles using a 3 to 3 ½ inch cookie cutter (re-roll dough scraps) making 20 circles.
- Place 2 teaspoons of filling in the center of each dough circle. Fold dough over filling, making half circle shapes, pressing dough together on edges. Bring the two ends together, pinching dough and making a tortellini-like shape. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. This makes about 40 pieces.
- Bring 10 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the dumplings and cook gently for about 15 minutes or until dumplings begin to float. Cook another 3-4 minutes, floating on top. Test for doneness by cutting one and meat is cooked.
- Scoop cooked dumplings out, drain in colander and cover with kitchen towel to keep warm. Scoop out ½ cup cooking water and pour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the yogurt.
- In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts until golden. Add butter to skillet and melt the butter with the dried mint and Aleppo pepper.
- Pour half of the butter mixture into bowl with the yogurt. Gently add in the dumplings, tossing to coat in yogurt sauce. Serve immediately and drizzle remaining butter and pine nut sauce on top.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.