Sunday, April 06, 2008
Kishik is an ancient Lebanese pantry item. It’s a process to preserve milk and grain to make nutritious tasty meals throughout the winter. The process to make it is time consuming and I’ve never attempted it myself. Some books have recipes for making it and Paula Wolfert has recipes to make Tarhana, which seems like the Greek version (actually it’s from the isalnd of Crete) of Kishik, in her book ‘Mediterranean Grains and Greens’. The process involves mixing burghul with yogurt and let it ferment. The mixture is then dried and ground to a coarse powder. The end product has the texture and color of semolina.
Kishik drying in the sun on a roof top. I took this picture in the Lebanese town of ‘Bteghrin’ last year.
Sure, in modern day Lebanon, they do not NEED to make Kishik. Even the poorest villager has a refrigerator (and a satellite dish probably). However, just like we still make sausages and cure hams, the Lebanese still make this pantry staple because it tastes good. It adds a lovely tangy and savory taste to soups and stews. To highlight it though, two recipes are typically used. One is a Kishik Soup which I will post about some other time. The other is this humble pie that is found in every Lebanese shop that sells pies (or Mana’ish) like this one.
The recipe for the dough is from Barbara Abdeni Massaad’s book Man‘oushe. Unfortunately this lovely English-language book is not readily available in the US yet. I bought mine last year from Lebanon. Any simple dough recipe (like pizza dough) should work ok though. The Kishik is mixed with onions, tomatoes, chilies and olive oil to make a loose paste. It is slathered on the dough and baked in a hot oven. Other add-ins can include walnuts or pine nuts to add some crunch. Even some cheese can be good to make it a bit more creamy.
The pictures I took this time were for some reason ruined (corrupt file or something). I so need a new digital camera. So, I am posting an older picture. This kishik pie is the one in the middle, with the orange color. The other two are cheese (in the back) and za’atar.