These ravioli-like dumplings are stuffed with seasoned minced lamb and onion, cooked in a Greek natural yoghurt stew, and topped with pine nuts, fresh coriander and garlic. Serve with rice or bulgur.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Shish-barak is a traditional Levantine dish. There are several theories about the origin of this dish, one of which claims that it was invented in Hama city in Syria, while another claims that it dates back to the Ottoman.  Arabic etymologists believe the word ‘shish-barak' derives from ancient Persia, specifically from the word joshpara, where ‘josh' means ‘to boil’ and ‘para' means ‘bit’. This word was commonly used prior to the 10th century, when it was replaced by the modern Persian name gosh e-barreh, meaning ‘lamb's ear’. The Arabic name shush-barak or shish-barak is one of the many versions of the name in various languages.



  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ tbsp vegetable oil



  • 1-2 tbsp ghee 
  • 300 g onion, finally chopped
  • 500 g of lamb mince (you can use beef)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 dry bay leaves


Yogurt sauce

  • 1½ kg natural Greek yogurt
  • 5 tbsp cornflower
  • ½ cup cold water
  • Salt, to taste


To serve

  • 2 tbsp ( 40 ml) ghee 
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ bunch coriander, chopped
  • 100 g pine nuts

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Resting time: 30 minutes

Chilling/freezing time: 45 minutes

  1. To form the dough, in a mixer, combine the flour and salt, then gradually add water and oil until a dough is formed; it should be soft but not sticky. You may not need all of the water. Let dough rest for about half an hour.
  2. To make the filling, caramelise the onion in the ghee in a medium-sized frypan until browned. Add the minced lamb, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Remove from  heat and set it aside to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 220°C  (200°C fan-forced).
  4. To make the dumplings, dust the bench with flour, roll out ¼ of the dough to a thickness of about 1-1½ mm and cut into circles using a round pastry cutter (about 5 cm diameter). Add ½-1 teaspoon of filling (depending on the size of the pastry circle) in the centre of the dough and fold it into a crescent moon shape, pinching the edges hard to seal. (Brush the edges of the dumpling with some water if they are not sealing together.) Pinch the two tips together. Repeat until all of the dough has been used, rerolling the trimmings.
  5. Place dumplings on a baking tray. Bake for about 5-8 minutes, or until the dough is slightly dry and lightly golden in colour. Allow to cool.
  6. You have two alternatives after cooling the dumplings: either drop them into the boiling cooked yoghurt right away or freeze them on a tray (see Note) for use another day.
  7. To prepare the yoghurt sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a non-stick pot. Cook the yoghurt over medium heat, stirring constantly in the same direction, until the mixture begins to boil.
  8. Gently toss the dumplings in the yoghurt sauce until the mixture returns to the boil.  (this will take around 5 minutes). Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. 
  9. Place the shish-barak in a large bowl with the yoghurt sauce.
  10. To serve, heat the garlic and half of the fresh coriander in ghee for 1-2 minutes prior drizzling it over the shish-barak. Top with the remaining fresh coriander and roasted pine nuts.



The best part about this recipe is that you may make as many shish-barak dumplings as you want, freeze them after the baking stage, and then pop them out of the freezer and drop them right into the boiling yoghurt on the day of cooking. Freeze the shish-barak in a tray a non-stick bake sheet for 45 minutes, then store in a freezer bag. You can keep them frozen for up to six months.

 In Syria we use a special kind of mould to form the dumplings, a ‘Shish-Barak mould’.

 If you don't have a mould, roll out the dough and cut circles with a round pastry cutter, as I have suggested in this recipe.

 If the yoghurt sauce is too thick, thin it out with water until it reaches your desired consistency. You don’t want it watery – it should be more like a creamy sauce. But the consistency isn’t crucial, the main this is that the dumplings don’t fall apart while cooking.


Photography, styling and food preparation by Racha Abou Alchamat.