Hummus, tahini and even baba ghanoush are common place in the modern Irish diet, but have you ever tried Kibbeh? How about Mutabal? Now is the perfect time to sample the gems of Syrian cuisine, all in aid of promoting a vital message. Irish food bloggers have to come together to encourage readers to share and try out authentic Syrian recipes in a bid to show solidarity with refugees arriving in Ireland from the war torn country.
Billy O’Donoghue, a passionate foodie and blogger who posts culinary creations regularly on his blog Rookie Cook, reports feeling really frustrated at not being able to do anything to help the migrant crisis. “I have a tiny audience from my food blog but nothing really worth speaking of so I wrote on the Irish Food Bloggers group asking if anyone would be interested in posting Syrian recipes,” he says.
The aim of this initiative is, according to Billy, is to familiarise our collective audience with Syrian culture, “in the hope that it would demystify the migrants arriving here and help integrate them into Irish society.” With that goal in mind, the hashtag
#IrelandcooksforSyria was decided upon and the specific date March 1st chosen to share recipes and encourage the public to do so.
You can support the campaign by choosing a traditional Syrian recipe, or creating your own inspired by Syrian staples, upload a photo on Twitter and tag #IrelandCooksforSyria, or share the recipes posted by bloggers with a retweet.
If you fancy trying a quick and easy Syrian classic, below is my recipe for a traditional Syrian Semolina Cake – Basbousa. I first tried this whilst traveling through the West Bank, and it is a popular tea time treat there as well as in Syria and Lebanon.
It is a simple sweet dish, quickly put together and topped with sugar syrup to seal in the moisture. Perfect alongside a strong shot of Arabic Coffee – a little taste of Syria’s sweet tooth.
For the cake
– 250g semolina
– 75g caster sugar
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 120g butter, melted
– 250g full fat natural yoghurt
– 50g flaked almonds
For the sugar syrup
– 300g caster sugar
– 250ml water
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp of either rosewater, orange blossom extract or my favourite, almond extract
1. Preheat your oven to 180C.
2. In a large bowl, mix semolina, baking soda and sugar
3. Add in the melted butter and mix well with a wooden spoon.
4. Add yogurt, mixing to form a thick, pliable batter.
5. Place the batter into a greased and lined 8×8 baking tin and cut diamond shapes into the batter with a knife.
6. Top each diamond with a sprinkling of flaked almonds.
7. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
8. While the cake is in the oven, make the syrup by placing all ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan.
9. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer and reduce to the point where the syrup coats the back of a spoon, 7-10 minutes.
10. Once the cake is out of the oven, re-cut the diamond shapes and pour the syrup over the hot cake, allowing 20 -30 minutes for it to soak in and form a glaze.
11. Serve with tea or coffee as an afternoon treat or with honeyed ricotta or whipped cream with tahini folded through for a more substantial dessert.
Growing up with the name Darina, I was constantly asked if I could cook like my namesake. I am the only person to have contested both Masterchef and the Great Irish Bake Off and am passionate about discovering and creating delicious things – I can sometimes be caught in the act on TV3’s Six O’Clock Show. Working with TheTaste allows me to satisfy this craving and marries my food fascination with my love of writing and ranting.