Syrian Pasta

Although we Syrians invented pasta (I am no food historian, but every time I read an article about pasta it says that Arabs invented pasta and introduced it to Italy, and if an Arab invented it he must have been Syrian) our traditional use of pasta is very limited. I am not talking about what we do with pasta today. Italian restaurants serving all kinds of pasta are all over Damascus. Even my mum generation cooked different types of pasta. We had lasagna, cannelloni and spaghetti bolognese as part of our normal diet when I was a kid. Here I am talking about what my grandma did with pasta. How pasta was cooked in Damascene houses thirty or forty years ago for a nice supper or a filling Suhor in Ramadan.

Pasta or Ma'ccarona (معكرونة) as we call it in Syria is traditionally cooked three ways: Ma'ccarona Be Lahmeh(with meat), Ma'ccarona Be Jebneh(with cheese) or Ma'ccarona Bel Laban(with yogurt). The meat variety is nothing special, pasta cooked in bolognese ragu, nothing much to say there.

The cheese and yogurt variety are far more interesting. They are really Syrian dishes. We took a foreign ingredient and made it our own by adding Syrian tried and tested flavours. The combination of white cheese and parsley or yogurt and garlic are unmistakably Syrian and works very well indeed.

Start these dishes with boiled Penne. For the cheese pasta you need your pasta well cooked. Al dente will make the dish too dry. For the yogurt pasta use your preference. You need 350g of dry pasta for either one of these recipes.

Ma'ccarona Be Jebneh
White cheese 200g
Parsley finally chopped 50g
Purified Ghee butter 1 table spoon
Black pepper

Finally chop the cheese. Use a combination of different types of Arabic white cheese for best results. Different types of cheese have different texture, flavour and melting temperature. Use whatever cheese available to you. Akawi, Sheelal, Mjadaleh, Baladi or Haloumi can be bought from any Arabic supermarket in London.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the pasta with the rest of ingredients and keep stirring so the pasta doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. You can add a couple of table spoons of the pasta cooking water. Keep stirring till the cheese start to melt and serve immediately. Be a bit generous with your black pepper as it lefts the flavours.

Ma'ccarona Bel Laban
Greek style yogurt 400g
Three cloves of garlic
Purified Ghee butter 1 table spoon

Melt the butter in a pan and add the pasta and keep stirring till the pasta heated through. Remove into a bowl and let cool slightly so the yogurt doesn't curdle with the heat.

Mix the yogurt and crushed garlic and add salt to taste. Pour the mixture over the pasta and mix Sprinkle the paprika and serve.


مترجم سوري said...

pasta is a syrian invention?
i think if u ever mention this to any italian , he will give u a bunch in the head.
anyway, my dad's all time favoutir dish is pasta wih jebneh.
did u know that u can put fried egg on the pasta bi laban..and u should add some توم as well to the laban ?
try it , it's twice yammy.

Kano said...

Well... like everything else in this world it all originated from Syria.
This is the first time I hear about fried egg on Ma'ccarona bel Laban. Sounds interesting. So is it a whole fried egg on top?
There is garlic already in the recipe. It doesn't work without the garlic.

Simply Heaven Food said...

I like what you said!!!
“Like everything else in this world it all originated from Syria”
We, Syrian people like to take pride of that!
The dish looks delicious. Great Job!

Kano said...

Hi Afaf
Absolutely right! Give me anything in the world and I can argue that it is from Syria.

مترجم سوري said...

yes it 's all fried egg on the top... i realized- after leaving Syria- that non much Syrians know about adding fried egg on the top.
try it..i like it so much especailly in Ramadan, but you have to add more laban to the pasta.,
بمعني آخر خلي المعكرونة تغرق بلبن

long live Syria

i wanna ask something:
when i hear syrians who assure that everything is orginated from syria, i ask them to relate me to books which support this do u recommend any books?

Kano said...

Come on Omniah. You don't need a book to say that, take my word for it.
On a serious note, No I don't know any books that support this theory.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know where in London I can get some Aleppo chillies (syrian chillies)?

Kano said...

Hi there

If you are looking for the red pepper paste to make Muhammara then don't bother. I looked long and hard without success. You need to get some from Syria as I will do next time I visit.

If the dry varity is what you are after, you should check out Damas Gate in Shepered's Bush. It is the main Syrian sho in London and they import most goods and distribute them to Arabic shops around town. I will have to admit I never tried to look for it but if any one going to stock it it will be Damas Gate.

Hope that is helpful

Taste of Beirut said...

Interesting! in Lebanon we have a lot of recipes with macarons, sweet and savory, so I guess that was the Levantine version of pasta. I am assuming you guys have it too?

Kano said...

we don't have any macaroni sweet recipes I know. What are the Lebanese ones?

buy viagra said...

I once went to Lebanon, I was amazed on how good their food was, I saw a lot of dishes made with pasta, amazing food, amazing country, amazing culture.

Unknown said...

do you have a recipe for mante in yoghurt?

Priya said...

I love pasta whoever invented it don't mind .Love to eat it.I love your simple style pasta.


Kano said...

@Sathya Priya

Welcome to my blog. Hope you have a chance to try some pasta , and other, recipes.

sarahg14 said...

Kano I love your blog! My grandmother is Syrian and I grew up eating all the food you have here. SO nice to find the recipes online. Thank you for posting these!
PS: I also grew up being told that everything (good) was invented by Syrians.. so i definately believe you about the pasta! ;)

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog and thank you for the nice words. I hope you get a chance to try most of these recipes.

Hadia's Lebanese Cuisine said...
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