Dawood Basha

I couldn't find a credible story of the origin of the name of this dish but I can come up with story and I am sure I will not be that far from the truth. Dawood is Arabic for David and Basha is a Turkish Ottman class title equivalent to Lord (the actual word is Pasha but we don't have "P" in Arabic). This title was given to high ranking personnel in the Ottman political system like governors and army generals. From here on the story is a no-brainer. Dawood Basaha was a nobleman somewhere in the Levant and he either liked this dish or the dish was invented in his kitchen.

Of note, there was a Dawood Pasha governor of Lebanon in the late Nineteenth century but I could not find any source to relate this dish to him.

Dawood Basha (or Daoud Pasha, as it is spelled some times) is meatballs cooked in tomato sauce and served with rice or Bulgar wheat pilaf. Chickpeas is an optional ingredients some people in Damascus like to add. The dish is a simple comfort food. The flavours are as good as the tomatoes you have so if you don't have good tomatoes you can use good quality tin tomatoes.

Similar versions of the dish are eaten across the Levant and in Egypt.

Here is my Dawood Basha recipe:

Minced lamb 500g
For large ripe tomatoes
One large onion
Tomato paste 1tbsp (adjust to taste)
Chickpeas 1 can
A slice of white bread
Allspice 1tsp
Olive oil
Chicken stock 2cups (water instead)

Start by making the meat balls. Soak the bread slice in milk and add to the meat. Add salt and allspice and mix well. Check the seasoning by frying a small amount of meat and taste. When happy, form the meat into one inch balls.

Peel your tomatoes. Cross the bottom of the tomato with a knife then drop in a boiling water for few second. The skin should come off easy. Check this video to see how. Finely chop the tomatoes or put them in a food processor.

In a heavy bottom pan heat some olive oil and fry the meat balls on all sides to brown. You don't need to cook them at this stage you just need to give them nice colour. To avoid breaking the meat balls, fry in small patches and turn around carefully. Remove the meat balls to a plate.

Thinly slice the onion and fry in the same pan on medium heat till the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for few minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, salt, pepper and some water if necessary. Cook for twenty minutes till the sauce thickens.

Add the meat balls and cook for another twenty minutes. Five minutes from the end drain and add the chickpeas.

Serve next to vermicelli rice or cooked Bulgar wheat.


Misty Mays said...

i really dont like lamb but this dish looks very tasty! Might have to give it a try.

Kano said...

@Misty Mays

Welcome to my blog!

You can use lamb if you are after an authentic taste. Otherwise, use beef. I am sure it will work fine.

Anonymous said...

That looks absolutely delicious! Don't pine nuts sometimes figure in the recipe?

bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) said...

Well Well Well! A fellow Middle-Eastern food blogger! I'm so happy to have come across your blog! Now I'm dying to meet you!

I just discovered your blog through London Food and Drink. My name is Bethany, I'm Lebanese and I write the blog http://www.dirtykitchensecrets.com here in London as well. A few other bloggers and I are organizing a conference on Food Blogging on the 28th of November, 2009 in London.

We would love it if you could join us. Depending on the number of food bloggers who RSVP, we hope to also have guest speakers talking about relevant issues to Food Blogging such as “How To Improve On Food Photography” or “What Makes A Good Food Blog” amongst others. In any case, it will be an opportunity to meet other food bloggers, some of which are coming from France, Germany and even India, and network, eat delicious food (it's at Levant) and have a good laugh.

For more information please visit http://www.dirtykitchensecrets.com/

We hope to see you there.

Bethany and the other organisers; Mowie Kay- Mowielicious, Jamie Schler- Life’s a Feast and Hilda Saffari- Saffron & Blueberry

Taste of Beirut said...

I like your story about Dawud Basha. I thought he was a ferocious governor who terrorized Lebanese villagers and kept asking for more tax money; subsequently, he was booted out of Lebanon, albeit without his tarboosh which was stuck on the fig branch (hence the expression) and was never seen again to this day.

Kano said...


I was asking myself the same question!

Pine nuts usually feature in most minced meat based recipes. We in Syria love pine nuts and we added whenever we can.

In a similar dish called "kebab hendi" we use loads of pine nuts in the meat balls. On the other hand I tried Dawood Basha cooked by different people form different families and I can't recall pine nuts being used at all.

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog. I am really happy you came by and left a comment so I got to see your excellent blog. Fills my heart with happiness when I see other Middle Eastern/ Levantine food blogs. Especially if they are as good as yours.

Regarding the food bloggers meeting, I would have loved to attend but unfortunately I am out of the country on holiday (actually it is very fortunate for me as I will be on a hot beach in the Maldives!)

Nevertheless, I am sure there will be more opportunities to meet in the future.

I loved the Arabic bread Pizza recipe on your blog, Looks great!

Kano said...


I don't know that expression!

By the way, do you use the same name for this dish in Lebanon?

Taste of Beirut said...

the expression is "tarboosho m'allak bel tooteh"

Taste of Beirut said...

Oops! and we use pine nuts, too!

Laylakaf said...

Oh Beth! I was just on your blog, and I totally enjoyed reading about Riz Bhaleeb and the Hx of Beirut with the beautiful pictures. One thing though: I would not say it is easy to make, and without sticking to the pot too! I have some mastic gum, FROM BEIRUT NO LESS, and will try it as in your recipe. To post this on Kano's blog only shows my commitment to the first blog I found about Syrian food. LOL. OK, now onto other blogs. I find them so much fun to read.

Kano said...


Thank you very much for you commitment :)

I wrote a long reply to you comment about starting a blog. I hope you find the advice useful.

This is how to find it:


Laylakaf said...

Re--Dawood Basha

EXCELLENT! Used beef instead of lamb and cheated on the tomatoes. Used Aylmer diced, which are an excellent staple for me. Very delicious and satisfying.

And a note to Misty, I think you can substitue beef for lamb as I did, and some use veal. But I know why you don't like lamb. I bet it has something to do with its distinctive smell. To minimize that, you should remove every trace of fat there is, but if you use spring lamb, usually it is very good and no untoward smells. This is the way it is here in Quebec, and I assume it's the same all over the world.

Zara Choudhury said...

Hi Kano! I know it's been a while since I've been on here. After a Syrian cooking stint, I went back to my roots and introduced Asian food to my husband! But had a dinner party last night and wanted something Syrian there as well so I made this together with other things and it went down really well. I changed it a bit (being Asian haha) I added ginger and garlic to the meat mixture but that was it...everything else I did the same and it was delicious!

Thanks :)

Kano said...

@Dubai Bride

Your Asian roots are definitely wining ;)

I am glad you liked the dish. Sahteen.

Ahluuul said...

I cooked this last night - very delicious. Great recipe, easy to follow, thank you. I used beef, as I had no lamb, and omitted the chickpeas and used stock cubes for the stock (massell brand). We loved it! He even wiped the plate clean :D

Kano said...


I am so glad you and hubby liked the dish. It works very well with beef or even a combination of two types of meat.

Ames said...

My family makes Dawood Pasha and we don't use pine nuts with it. We eat it with rice rather than wheat.

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog. Do you use chickpeas?

Dubai Bride said...

Hi Kano, it's been a while :) Made this again last night (first time since the last time when I posted above) and this time I added garlic to the meat mixture, and then fried crushed garlic with the onions and then added chopped parsley at the end to add a splash of colour. Amazing :)

Kano said...

@Dubai Bride

been a while indeed. Hope you are well. You need to start your cooking blog!

Anonymous said...

great blog kano.thanks

Kano said...

Welcome to my blog. Thank you for the kind words.

Unknown said...

merhaba bloğunuzu çok beğerdim. (tr)

Unknown said...

merhaba bloğunuzu çok beğerdim. (tr)

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