Shish barak is a favorite dish of the Middle Eastern food lover looking for something delicious.
Dating back to the 14th century this particular dish is no doubt a mishmash of several different cuisines.
Most likely with its origins in Ancient Persia in pre-Islamic times, it is consumed widely throughout the Levant.
The dumpling itself was invented in China during the Han Dynasty.
Lasting 400 years, the Han Dynasty was known for much trade along the Silk Road.
This is the most likely explanation for the introduction of the filled dumpling to Asia Minor.
What is Shish Barak?
A comfort food for many in the Middle East, it is very similar to tortellini in shape and size.
Then the ends are brought together and pinched again making a tortellini shape.
Spicing and fillings of course have been influenced by local cultures and cuisines.
Whereas a lot of pork is used in Chinese dumplings, this practice would have changed as Islam took hold.
It seems every family has its own way of spicing this recipe, often depending on what region they are from.
How to Make Shish Barak
Preparing this dish does take a bit of time, but it is less than you’d think, and definitely worth it.
Once the dough is made and rolled out flat, it is time to cut the dough.
This is usually done using a cookie or biscuit cutter to get the round pieces of dough.
The dumplings are filled and shaped before bringing a pot of water to a boil.
Add the dumplings to the boiling water, and cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat.
The process is like that of cooking any filled pasta.
Origins of Pasta
It has been hypothesized that the Italian explorer Marco Polo brought pasta making methods from his travels to China.
Another theory is that pasta was actually a Greek invention that was adopted in Italy.
My theory about this type of question is that foods were shared widely by merchants and explorers.
Borrowing from each other, different cultures built on all the different influences that surrounded them.
At the end of the day it seems to be more about national pride than it does about where food really came from.
Does who was first really matter when a dish being eaten is delicious enough to share with others?
Regardless of where they are from or what their food is like.
Tips for Making
- The most important thing is to make sure that your dumplings don’t open up while cooking.
- You can achieve this by not overfilling the bits of dough, and moistening the outer edge of the dough.
- Squeezing the dough edges together well enough to bind them to one another.
- Don’t overcook the dumplings by leaving them in the water too long.
- Also let the dough rest for about 15 minutes after making for best results.
Shish Barak Recipe
- For the filling, mix all ingredients together and set aside in the refrigerator.
For the Dough
- Add the olive oil and water and make into a dough.
- On a floured surface roll out the dough to about a quarter of an inch thick.
- Using a 3-3.5 inch cookie cutter cut several pieces of dough.
- Fill each circle with about a teaspoon of filling.
- Fold over, moistening the edge of the dough, making half moon shapes. Pinch the two ends together making a tortellini shape.
- Bring three quarts of water to a boil, add the dumplings and cook gently for about 20 minutes until dumplings begin to float.