The Syrian kitchen, shaped by influences from neighbouring countries, has deep historical roots and evolved to perfection over thousands of years.
Sumac is filled with traditional and contemporary Syrian recipes that were inspired by personal stories. The gorgeous photography illustrates how beautiful this country was and still is, and family photographs add depth to the author’s history. Each chapter is filled with the author’s memories of family celebrations and the country that inspired the book. He tells stories of traditional weekend breakfasts in his grandmother’s garden and of the mezze his mother cooked for family gatherings. There are memories of the rich aromatic flavours of the Syrian kitchen where fragrant spices like the lemony and deep red sumac are prized ingredients.
In the author’s words: “With this book, I hope to build a bridge between Syrian culture and the rest of the world, with food the common denominator. But even more, I hope that Sumac will present a positive image of my country, in spite of all the unfortunate events now taking place in Syria.”
- Over eighty recipes, inspired by the author’s family recipes and his travels
- Beautiful location photography by Rania Kataf, who shot Humans of Damascus
- For anybody curious about a country so often in the news headlines but so difficult to visit as a tourist
Chicken Shish Kebabs
Chicken kebabs are popular all over the world and are made in countless ways. If you want to make chicken the Syrian way, you’ll need garlic, lemon, paprika and Aleppo pepper, and I like to use a mix of yogurt, tomato puree and paprika to marinate the chicken. Chicken thighs give a more succulent result than chicken breast. Also drizzle the chicken kebabs with honey, a typical Syrian finish. This gives them a mouthwatering shine and a crispy sweet layer. This is delicious for dipping in aioli.
- 800g chicken thighs, deboned and cut into 5cm pieces
- 400g Greek yogurt
- 4 tbsp tomato paste (concentrated puree)
- 6-8 cloves garlic, crushed
- juice of 1 organic lemon
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- salt to taste
- 50ml (2½ tbsp) honey
- Fill a sealable freezer bag with all the ingredients except the honey. Seal the bag, toss the contents to blend them thoroughly, and then rub the marinade into the chicken.
- Place the bag on a plate or in a bowl (in case it leaks) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
- Preheat a barbecue or outdoor grill to 230C.
- Skewer the chicken pieces, leaving 8cm bare as a handle.
- On the barbecue: grill the skewers for 6-8 minutes, turning regularly, until the chicken is golden brown, slightly charred and completely cooked. Drizzle with some honey and grill a minute longer.
- In the oven: Place the skewers on a baking tray prepared with baking paper, cover with aluminum foil (this keeps the chicken from drying out) and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the grill on, remove the foil, drizzle the chicken meat with honey and then grill for another 3 minutes on each side.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Interlink Publishing.