One Hundred and One Mezze: 11. Pastirma

This is the last of my Armenian themed posts.

Pastirma is a spicy air-dried beef eaten in Syria mainly as part of a mezze spread. I am not sure if it is originally Turkish or Armenian as both nations lay claim to it, but it was brought to Syria and Lebanon through the Armenian community.

I am not going to give you a recipe as I don't make my own and no body else does. It is made by salting and hanging the meat for few days. The meat then get washed and dried. The next step will be covering the meat in a layer of spice paste made from paprika, cumin, fenugreek and chilli then hung again to dry.

In Syria we mainly eat pastirma as a mezze dish. We slice it very thinly and eat it uncooked although some people would grill it lightly. Alternatively we use it in sandwiches or fried with eggs as a supper dish. In Turkey they use pastirma in some types of bean stews.

Allegedly the best pastirma is made from camel meat. Years ago, I tasted what was sold to me as camel pastirma but it didn't taste any different. I genuinely belief he was laying and I just tasted an over-priced piece of beef.

In London, Maroush Deli on Edgware Road used to make their own pastirma and it was quite good. Unfortunately the deli has now closed and the shop turned into another Maroush fast food outlet. Since then, I buy packed sliced pastirma from a Middle Eastern supermarket in West Ealing. Not as good but it does the trick!


Luiz Hara said...

Hi Kano, great posting! I was compiling a list of your mezze dishes for a dinner party I am having in a couple of weeks but with your new blog design I don't need to worry anymore! Thanks. Luiz @ The London Foodie

Kano said...


Best of luck with your dinner party. If you have any questions please let me know.

Are you planning to try "keshkeh khadra" or is it too much hassle?

Rouaa said...

This blog is really great! I just read all your blog posts.
As a Syrian, living in Sweden since I was 7 (24 now), I learned some syrian cooking from my mom. My favourite is jalangi. Can't live without it.

Jalangi not m7shi, because I'm a vegetarian. ;)

Well just wanted to say hey and tell you that this blog is great. I actually laughed my ass off when I saw the picture of Boz al-Jiddi. My sisters used to buy dinner and take it home to us when they came from their school sometimes from that place.
I miss it. Sometimes. :)

Kano said...


I can't explain how happy your comment made me. This what is this blog about, bringing nice memories and beautiful thought to Syrians living all over the world and introducing Syrian cuisine to people who don't know much about it.

I love how you spelt Yalanji, "Jalangi" very Swedish. Reminds me of Ikea names :)

Anonymous said...

A note on the origins of Pastirma, also called Bastirma depending on the region. It is a Turkish word literally meaning "a pressing", or something pressed. It is the noun form of the verb "to press". This is because the meat is first salted and pressed for 14 days to remove all blood and moisture. There is typically a heavy piece of metal placed on the meat which sits in a slanted tray causing the blood and moisture to seep out. Every morning, it is drained, eventually leaving a perfectly dry piece of meat which is then ready for smoking, or actually aging in a coating of spices.

Luiz Hara said...

Hi Kano,

The keshkeh recipe sounds amazing, I will definitely try that, need to remind myself to start preparing at least 3 days ahead! Thanks for the tip and amazing recipes, my friends will be amazed by all the dishes, I just hope I won't mess up!

Luiz @ The London Foodie

Kano said...


You seem to know way more about pastirma than I do. thank you very much for sharing this informations.

Kano said...


I am really glad you are going to try it.

Rouaa said...


Well hello again...

Haha sorry. I'm kinda Swedish when it comes to spelling arabic words or names with these letters. Mo sahle. Especially when it comes to arabic. You would laugh if you heard me speaking. Haha. :)

Yeah it's true. I mean the memories that came up when I started reading your blog pots made me cry a bit. I immediately called my mom up and told her to get online so I could show her your blog. She was so happy about it! Even one of my sisters asked for a link. :)

And we all will try out your recipes. Well I'll make mine vegetarian ;)

By the way... here is a few pictures of my yalanji :p it's not even near the tasty looking pictures you take!

Anonymous said...

hi there.. as a syrian/turkish half blood who has always wanted to be a chef but ended up becoming a surgeon, exactly as you have described, your blog and profile excited me a lot... this is what I ever wanted, at least having my own blog or page, but had no time to deal with it.. many thanks for sharing those great recipes with us who are missing the homeland.. best, mercan

Kano said...

Welcome to my blog! I am so glad you like it.
You should start writing your own blog. Trust me, it is a great joy. It could be hard work to keep it up some time because of limited time, but it is worth the effort.

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