Thursday, 2 February 2012

One Humndred and One Mezze: 30. Batersh



30 years ago Syria's Assad regime committed one of the worst massacres in the twentieth century. 20000 people of the city of Hama lost their lives at the hands of the regime army. They didn't spare anyone, man, woman or child. Men and boys dragged out of their houses, lined against the walls and killed by fire squads. 

30 years on, the Assad junior regime is committing the same massacres. This time all over the country and in slow motion. 7000 of my country men and women lost their lives over the last 11 months with no end in sight. 

Sorry for the depressing words but this is how I felt for the last 11 months and this is how my beautiful Syria is being killed every single day.

This post is dedicated to Hama, the bravest of all Syrian cities.



Batersh is a speciality of the city of Hama. It is, in a way, Mutabal topped with Syrian Bolognese sauce. 

I know what you think, very odd combination. It might sound odd but in fact it is very moreish and very satisfying.

In Hama, Batersh is mostly served as a supper main dish which is my favourite way to eat it. However, I also like to serve it as a warm Mezze dish.

Here is my take on Batersh:

Two aubergines
Tahini 2-3 tbs
Yoghurt 2-3 tbs
Garlic 1 clove, crushed
Salt

For the topping:
Minced lamb 200g
Ghee clarified butter 2 tbs
One large tomato pureed in a food processor.
Tomato paste 1-2 tbs
Pine nuts 30g
Parsley 1 tbs chopped
Salt and pepper


Start by placing the aubergine whole and skin on directly on open flame and cook it till it is charred on the outside and soft on the inside. Turn around every few minutes so it is charred all over. This method gives the dish its characteristic smokiness. No other way of cooking can give you that exact flavour. Grilling under a hot grill in the oven is not bad. You can also put your aubergine directly on electric or halogen hub. The cooking process should take 15-20 minutes.


After you cook the aubergine, cover with cling film for 20-30 minutes. Remove the charred skin. It should come off easily. Mash the aubergine with a fork. Mix the rest of the ingredients and add to the aubergines. Season with salt to taste. 

To make the topping start by frying the pine nuts in the Ghee butter to a nice golden brown. Be careful as pine nuts burn very quickly. Remove from the butter with a slotted spoon and keep aside for later.



In the same Ghee fry the minced meat until it start to brown. Add the processed tomato and the tomato puree. Use more or less puree to your taste. I don't like my sauce too sour. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for twenty minutes until the meat is tender and the sauce thick and concentrated.


Spread the Mutabal in a plate. Spoon over the meat sauce and sprinkle the pine nuts and chopped parsley.

Serve with Arabic flat bread.

49 comments:

  1. My mum grew up in Syria, but I have never heard of this dish. I look forward to trying it!

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  2. Allah yakhud Bashar oo kil il minhibakjiyeh! btw nice dish, I never heard of it but my husband is dying to try it. thanks Kano

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  3. We make the same dish in LEBANON but with hummus.where does the name batersh come from? any idea.?GOD bless SYRIA.BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY

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  4. @Narge
    Please let me know what you think when you try it. It is very little known dish outside Hama.

    @Maysa
    Alla yesma3 menek. Let me know when you try it.

    @anonymous
    Interesting. We make Hummus with fired meat but we don't add any tomato. Just fried meat and pine nuts.
    No idea about the name I tried to look for it but couldn't get much information.
    Thank you for the nice words.

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  5. i hope with all my heart that this bloodshed will stop and can hardly imagine how painful it must be for you to see this happening to your country. thank you for continuing to post at this difficult time.

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  6. I'm happy that you are posting again. Thought you were lost in the struggle. Not only Hama, but also Homs is to be mentioned! I lost my passport there 2 years ago and what I encountered (as a foreigner) at the hands of immigration and police gave me deep insight into how that dictatorship works. I hope happy days of freedom of speech and music (missed dearly in those days) are approaching. Loved Syria a lot!

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  7. It's good to finally see a post on your blog :) The situation in Syria is very depressing and I understand why it took you this long to post something. My heart aches to see what is happening in Syria. My family is slowly having to leave Damascus as the situation just seems to get worse. Realizing the good old days with my family in Damascus are gone brings tears to my eyes.
    الله على الظالمين .. الله يحميك يا سوريا يا أحلى بلد بالعالم

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  8. I love this dish, but know it by the name Moutabbal Hamwi (Moutabbal from Hama).

    The Syrian people are in my prayers, may this nightmare come to and end very soon.

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  9. I, too, am glad to hear that you are safe. I have been sad to hear of the horrors that have been going on in Syria. I hope that the Assad's leave soon, by whatever means necessary.
    We do have some lamb meat in the freezer and this sounds wonderful. We shall make it in honor of the people of Syria!

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  10. Dear all

    I can't thank you enough for your kind words and sympathetic thoughts. Your comments gave me a warm feeling that people still care about Syria and its people. Thank you.

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  11. Great to see you back in action after a few quiet months...I'm so devastated by all that is going on. Can't quite believe it. When I lived there, it was inconceivable that history might repeat itself. It's almost straight out of a Hollywood film. Ophthalmologist in London turned repressive dictator in the Middle East. Very, very sad. But your recipe sounds lovely, as they all do. For me, my time in Syria will always be dominated by my epicurean memories and I hope to be able to go back there in the not to distant future. In the meantime...any recommendations for places in London. Have just review Abu Zaad! Hope to see some more post very soon!

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  12. Welcome back ! so happy you're posting again. The Syrian people are in our prayers.

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  13. This (and your other recipes) looks so yum! My mum is very ill in hospital at the moment but she loves aubergine so I will bookmark this and certainly make it when she is well again. I live in New Zealand and it's so hard to imagine to watch your country go through such troubles and be torn apart by your own people. I'm so sorry to watch the bloodshed and I'm also ashamed at how the international community makes such pathetic attempts to help the Syrian people. Syrian food looks so nice and I hope in the future I can eat it in in Syria. I might even cheat and make 'Hama spag bol' with just normal pasta :) Regards from NZ!

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  14. I remember your last post before you went to Syria on holiday, you were so excited and I was thrilled for you. Then it all started, I have been so worried for you fearing the worst when no more posts appeared, a person I have never met or will meet but whose personality shines out through the blog.

    I pray for Syria.

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  15. It looks absolutely delicious. Sadly, I only stopped off in Hama long enough to take a photograph of the water wheels. But I join you in praising the people of Hama, Homs (famous for their delicious sweets in a land of delicious sweets) and Syria. Wonderful people, kind and generous. May they find peace soon.

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  16. @Alex
    Thank you very much for the kind words. Much appreciated. The best thing about this blog is the wonderful friends I made all around the world despite never meeting them.

    @Sashimi Girl
    Thank you for visiting the blog. I hope Syria will becoma again peacful so you can visit again and enjoy the food and the place.

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  17. Kano,

    My heart goes out to you and all the brave souls in beautiful Syria battling this monstrous regime. As a child who grew up in the then occupied Southern Lebanon and having suffered through the many wars, my experience pales in comparison to what this monster is doing to his own people. As a mom, my heart bleeds for all the innocent children suffering. May God give you and them the strength and perseverance to see this revolution through. You are in my prayers. I dream of visiting a peaceful, free Syria. I can only hope and pray this dream will realize soon

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  18. My thoughts are with the people of Syria, may they find peace soon and the strength and courage to rebuild their lives.

    I have just found your blog and my mouth is watering reading your recipes! I can't wait to try some.

    I notice you mention Arabic flat breads - would pittas from the supermarket suffice, or is there a better alternative? Do you make your own? I have made chapattis at home, and leavened breads, so I imagine it would be possible... Access to ingredients is much more restricted in rural Scotland than in London, though!

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  19. @Dana
    Thank you very much for the kind words.

    @cothyquine
    Pitta is not bad if you heat in the oven or in a toaster. Arabic flat bread is a lot thinner and softer. Check my essential ingredients post for more info.

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  20. I check back occasionally to see if you have new posts. I'm so sorry about what's going on in your country. Best wishes to you.

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  21. My heart goes out to the people of Syria and I pray that this bloodshed ends soon inshaAllah.

    It's difficult to transition from something so terrible to something seemingly frivolous like food, but this dish looks amazing. I am just discovering your site and am really enjoying looking through all of these dishes. I am bookmarking this one!

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  22. @Julie

    Thank you for the nice words and kind thoughts. Glad you are liking the blog.

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  23. Excellent Dish & God be with the Syrian people.

    BTW, you can check out my blog too at http://www.myepicureanmeals.com

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  24. how is ur family in Syria?

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  25. @Shahim

    Thank you for the kind words. I love your blog! I want to try that mango cheese cake.

    @Anonymous
    My parents left the country couple of weeks ago. They will stay in Cairo for a while till the situation improves a bit. Only my brother stayed behind in Syria. I hope he stays safe.

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  26. alla yehme ur brother, my brother stayed in Syria too :( alla yehmeeh,,

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  27. Do you really think Syria will be a better place when the so call free army rules it??

    I have many Syrian friends, Suni, Alawite and Christian but all agree that if Assad goes the country will be finished.
    One of my Chistian Syrian friends has 5 fam members cut their throats by FSA. My best friend had his dad and 6 years old niece being attacked by them....they try to kidnap the girl she jump from a driving car. Their watchmen sitting in front of a building shot in the back of his had.
    This SFA is not fighting for a better Syria they are paid by the US and Saudi to destroy Syria!

    I hope the world will stop paying these people and Syria will be able to build back to the nice country she ones was!

    Love your blog and the food, got my fridge full of fresh made Muhammrah from Aleppo!

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  28. @Tunisian Pastry @anonymous

    Thank you!

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  29. @Dutch in Dubai

    "paid by the US and Saudi to destroy Syria" ... How very original!

    Let me tell you a story my friend...

    12 years old boy from a little town called Daraa watched some stuff on TV got together with his prankster friends and wrote something on his school wall. Five in the morning secret services knocked on the door dragging him out of bed. Kicking, punching and slapping his little face. They put him in a car and drove him to a National Security branch. More beating. Couple of days later they put him into another car and drove him to a security branch in Damascus, 120 kilometres from his family.

    Imagine this little thin boy cowering in the corner of dirty dungeon. Face swollen. Lip bleeding. His thin body shaking from the pain he can still feel when his nails where pulled out with metal pliers. The pain was so intense shooting from his little finger up his spine into his head ....

    When his dad came to ask for him they simply shot him dead.

    That is the Assad regime you are defending!

    I find it unbelievable someone from a democratic country who can elect his government, who doesn't end up in a desert prison for expressing an opinion, some one who is treated like a human, can come and lecture us Syrians on who should rule us.

    What do you want Syrians to do? Shut up and accept life under the military boot of Assad and criminal gang of a government.

    This is not to say FSA are perfect, far from it.

    I am not trying to deny the atrocities that are taking place in my beautiful Syria. But who's fault is it? The Assad regime with their arrogance and stupidity led the country to the current state of lawlessness. Where every criminal, Qaida and jihadi can walk around with machine guns killing and kidnapping however they want. How do you know who is who in this bloody mess.

    Sorry for the sharp language but I found your comment extremely offensive to the thousands of Syrians who died asking for a fraction of freedom you enjoy virtue of nothing but your birth place.

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  30. Que pinta mas deliciosa tiene!! Me encanta!
    Encantada de conocer tu blog, un abrazo!

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  31. It breaks my heart each time i hear of Syria and anything related to Syria. I never been there, i am Romanian so i am not related in any kind with this country, but the mass murdering and abuse there will not be forgotten and forgiven by history. It is same like Holocaust.

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  32. @Mi Ka
    Welcome to my blog.

    @Christina
    Thank you very much for the kind words. It means a lot.

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  33. And here is to Hama, a lovely and brave place, whose water mills are wailing and wailing...
    I lived in Syria for a brief time. Rarely in my life have I seen nicer, warmer, smarter people than the Syrians.
    My thoughts are with you and you family and I hope and pray this horrendous tragedy ends soon.

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  34. Dear Kano:

    Your post brought tears to my eyes.

    All the best,
    Victor E. Sasson

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  35. Strange, I've only visited your blog a handful of times in the past, I then subscribed, and then the uprising in Syria started. I remember your post about it...and then you became conspicuous by your (understandable) absence. This dish looks really interesting and similar to a couple of Ottoman dishes we know. An emotional post to read and I hope so much your dear country can see an end to all of this very soon. Best wishes to you.

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  36. @Jothi vasan
    @easttraveller
    @Victor e sasson
    @Julia

    Thank you for much for stopping by and commenting. I know I owe people who like and read my blog a lot and I should start writing again.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  39. I am so sorry about what's happening to your country :( It really breaks my heart. I sincerely hope that all the violence will end soon and that the Syrian people will finally have the peace and freedom they want.
    I made your recipe today and it was absolutely delicious. We loved the creamy eggplant puree with the nicely seasoned lamb meat..fantastic.
    Best wishes to you and your country!

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  40. @Carline

    Thank you for the kind thoughts .

    I am delighted you liked the recipe.

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  41. Hello Kano,
    Thank you for posting all these wonderful recipes! I made batersh the other night; my husband said the taste made him feel like he was back in Kafrzita. Your blog has been a tremendous help for me as most foods I try to cook, I have never even tasted before! Your chicken Fatteh is spot on too. We made it Hama style with the extra layer of plain rice for iftar. Thanks again.

    Mrs. Arafat

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  42. @Mrs Arafat
    So sorry for the late reply. I am not that active on the blog front as I used to be.

    I am delighted to hear you like the blog and the recipes.

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  43. can you use beef for example instead of lamb? There aren't many good lamb vendors in my area. Thank you!

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  44. @Brieanne

    Yes of course. The traditional meat of choice in Syria is lamb but I use beef in 95% of the time as wife prefers it. You might just need to cook it longer especially if you are using lean mince.

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  45. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  46. Made this, loved it! Come back and post more recipes! Love your site :)

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  47. @Sarah

    I am delighted to hear. It is an unusual taste the first time you try it

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