Syrian kitchen is famous for its extremely flavorful dishes and for the variety of spices they use.
Here are some of the most delicious Syrian foods you should try if you visit Syria.
Appetizer (Mezze) & Main Courses
Hummus (Chickpea Dip)
Hummus is one of the most popular and beloved dishes from the Levantine region in the world, it is an important dish in Syria.
Hummus is a dip made of mashed Chickpeas, Tahini Paste, lemon juice, garlic, and Olive oil.
It’s a savory dish that can be eaten with so many kinds of foods. You can eat it as a side dish with grilled meat or chicken platters, dip raw or cooked vegetables in it, or spread it on many types of bread.
Fattoush is a traditional Lebanese salad and is popular in Syrian cuisine.
It is made of lettuce, onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, mint, and fried pita bread or pita chips. Pita bread is cut into small pieces, then toasted, grilled, or fried, the vegetables are chopped and cut into small pieces and mixed with a generous amount of herbs, most commonly mint and parsley.
Then mix all the ingredients with is the dressing, that made of olive oil, lemon juice, and pomegranate molasses. The main ingredient, after the crunchy pita bread, is sumac.
This salad is served at both lunch and dinner and is generally served as a side dish along with grilled meats.
Muhammara is a nutritious dip originating from the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Muhammara is made from fresh red peppers, which are first cooked and then ground into a paste with walnuts, breadcrumbs, olive oil, Garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and sometimes spices like cumin, are also added to add more flavor.
Muhammara is another common mezze dish. It’s eaten as a dip, like Hummus.
It also can spread on bread or toast, or as a sauce for kebabs, grilled meats, and fish.
The word ‘muhammara’ is an Arabic expression, meaning to ‘turn red,’ hence the fiery red color of the dip.
Man'oushe is a traditional flatbread it can be consumed with almost all kinds of side dishes, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Syrians are well known for their cheeses, and jibbneh mashallale is one of their very popular string cheeses made of curd cheese that is pulled and twisted together. Syrians also make cookies filled with crushed dates mixed with butter called ka’ak to accompany their jibbneh mashallale.
Vine leaves (Warak Enab)
Vine leaves are a traditional Syrian dish.
There are two types of stuffed vine leaves in Syria:
- Yabraq: vine leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat cooked and served hot,
- Yalanji: vine leaves stuffed with rice only and served cold (meaning “liars dolma” as it doesn’t contain any meat).
Vine leaves are stuffed with ground beef, rice, spice cinnamon, salt, lemon juice, oil, and lamb chops or ribs for the broth. Once cooked, these stuffed rolls are usually garnished with a few lemon slices on top, olives and tomato slices that are simmered in a lemon-flavored broth.
You can also find this dish in Azerbaijan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Armenia, Greece, and Iran.
Mahshi is the name of a dish that includes a variety of vegetables stuffed with rice, fresh herbs, vegetables, and meat.
Mahshi is served as an appetizer or main course,
It typically consists of vegetables like eggplant, peppers, onions, Cabbage, vine leaves, tomatoes, Zucchini (Kosa), and other such sizable vegetables that are stuffed with spiced rice, meat, or a chopped vegetable mixture.
This is another staple dish in Syrian cuisine.
Makdous is a preserved eggplant dish in Syria.
The dish is prepared of small-sized baby eggplants that are boiled and stuffed with a flavorful mixture of roasted red peppers, walnuts, garlic, and salt, these eggplants are then cured for some time in olive oil.
Makdous is enjoyed as a starter dish or a breakfast item and served with traditional bread and labneh.
Kibbeh is a variety of Syrian dishes made with bulgur and minced lamb. Aleppo is famous for having more than 17 different types of kibbeh.
These include kibbeh prepared with sumac (kibbeh summaqiyah), yogurt ( kibbeh labaniyah), quince ( kibbeh safarjaliyah), lemon juice (kibbeh hamda), pomegranate sauce, cherry sauce, and other varieties, such as the "disk" kibbeh (kibbeh aqras), the plate kibbeh (kibbeh bi assiniyah) and the raw kibbeh (kibbeh nayyah).
However, kibbeh Halab is an Iraqi version of kibbeh made with a rice crust and named after Aleppo.
Kebab Halabi is a popular Syrian grilled meat dish.
kebab Halabi is skewered and grilled kebabs served with a Syrian tomato sauce and strained yogurt* along with white rice or vermicelli rice.
It is made of ground meat (beef or lamb) mixed with nuts, seven spices (black pepper, cinnamon, ground cloves, cumin, ground coriander, and white pepper), onions, salt, then wrapped around skewers in a long way and grilled over an open fire.
*The tomato sauce is made of garlic, peeled tomato then boiled with a finely chopped onion, the yogurt made of strained yogurt, mint leaves, and cumin powder.
Shawarma is very similar to the Turkish Doner and the Greek Gyros.
Shawarma is a traditional food in Syria that is made with either lamb, chicken, beef, or a mix of different meats that are marinated in seasoning based on cardamom, turmeric, cloves, and cinnamon.
Shawarma is usually served with generous amounts of vegetables as pickled carrots, pickled cucumber, lettuce, purple cabbage, pickles, eggplant, raw onion, tahini, garlic sauce, fries, and hummus, all wrapped in pita bread.
Shawarma is perfect to eat as a snack or as a lunch to-go.
There are two main varieties of fatteh - Levantine and Egyptian.
The Levantine version is traditionally composed of pieces of fresh, toasted, or flatbread with numerous other ingredients topped with yogurt, chickpeas, or eggplant (makdous), olive oil, garlic, and cumin. After the main toppings, Levantine fatteh can additionally be topped with chicken, lamb, cow's leg, or pine nuts.
The name of the dish means to tear into small pieces, referring to the process of tearing the flatbread.
Fatteh is usually consumed for breakfast or in the evening as the main dish.
Shish Barak (Meat Dumplings)
Shish Barak is middle eastern home-made meat-stuffed dumplings it looks like ravioli, but it differs in the filling it must be minced beef or chicken or lamb or even a mixture of them.
The dumplings are filled with seasoned meat, seasoned onions, and pine nuts that are boiled, baked, or fried and served in a warm yogurt sauce with melted butter, mint, sumac, and more toasted pine nuts.
They are made in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and Palestine, and are very similar to manti, the lamb-filled dumplings eaten in Turkey.
Mujaddara (Lentil Pilaf)
Mujaddara is a dish that combines lentils and rice.
The dish is cooked with rice and lentils mixed with onions sautéed in olive oil.
Then the dish is topped with fried onion and served with plain or garlic-flavored yogurt flatbread and salad.
Mujaddara can be served also as a puree instead of the traditional shape.
Some varieties may use bulgur instead of rice.
Sfeeha, or sfiha, are pastries made with ground lamb or beef, parsley, chopped onion, tomatoes, some chili pepper, and sometimes labneh, and pomegranate molasses.
The meat is not cooked previously but baked together with the dough.
It is best to be eaten warm, fresh out of the oven, served with tahini sauce or yogurt.
It served as a snack, as part of the Lebanese mezze, or as a main dish, or as a quick dinner with some yogurt.
Sfiha is also popular in Brazil and Argentina
One of Syria's most famous street foods.
Falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both mixed with garlic, parsley, coriander, and cumin.
It’s served in a pita bread sandwich with vegetables and tahini sauce. It’s usually accompanied by hot sauce, French fries, tomatoes, pickles, or cucumbers.
You can find Falafel in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Israel.
It’s a pastry made with cheese and topped with pistachios and served with sugar syrup, It can be made in a million different ways.
It’s crunchy with a top and bottom crust, but there are varieties with only one layer of crust on top. In between the crusts, there’s a delicious layer of unsalted cheese.
It’s a traditional food in countries like Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, and Jordan.
Maamoul is a traditional cookie made from semolina dough, stuffed with different fillings such as dates, nuts, pistachios, or walnuts, and then baked in the oven.
In some modern recipes, Maamoul is filled with fig jam or even Nutella.
Maamoul is served with coffee or tea during the day in many Middle Eastern households.
Maamoul is typically shaped into balls or domes. To differentiate the cookies, the walnut version is usually shaped into a dome with a round top, the date Maamoul is shaped into a dome with a flat top, while the pistachio Maamoul has an elongated, oval shape.
Baklava is a pastry made from layers of filo dough, honey, and assorted nuts (cashews, almonds, pine nuts, walnut, and pistachios), baked then soaked in a syrup of rose water, orange blossom water, sugar, and water.
Baklava is cut into different shapes like square, diamond, rectangular and triangular.
Baklava is found in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Greece, and the Balkans.
Ballourieh (pistachio-filled Baklava)
Ballourieh is a Baklava that has pistachio filling that is placed between two layers of shredded kataifi dough
Ballourieh is baking for a short time because it needs to retain its white color.
Besides the pistachio filling, it is sweetened with a flavored syrup and left to set for some time. It is then cut into a square shape for individual serving.
Ballourieh baklava is commonly found in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Jordan.
Halawit El Jeben – Sweet Cheese Rolls
The dish is made of semolina and cheese dough traditionally Akkawi, mozzarella, or Majdoola cheese, water, rose water, and sugar.
It is served rolled as small rolls or in small rope-like shapes.
Before serving, Halewit El Jeben is decorated with crushed pistachios and a rose jam.
It’s commonly eaten with sugar syrup and orange blossom or rose water.
Basbousa is a famous dessert in Syria.
It is a mixture of semolina, sugar, yogurt, and butter. Before baking, it’s spread in a big tray and topped with almonds.
Once baked, it’s topped with sugar syrup and then it’s cut out into diamond shape slices.
Basbousa is served in many religious festivities, especially during the month of Ramadan.
Some like the texture to be crispy, while others prefer it fluffy and soaked in sugar syrup.
Barazek (Sesame Cookies)
Barazek is a delicious Syrian cookie with sesame seeds and crushed pistachios, flavored with spices, vanilla and honey.
It is served as a dessert or a snack and often served with a thick sugar syrup.