Lebanese starter

You are currently browsing articles tagged Lebanese starter.

Tomato Soup with Freekeh Shorbet Banadoura maa Freekeh

This tasty Freekeh Tomato Soup, Shorbet Banadoura maa Freekeh is made simpler and quicker by using ingredients usually found in the store cupboard:  tinned chopped tomatoes, stock cubes, freekeh and dried herbs. It is also versatile because both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can cook it as you could use either vegetable stock or beef stock. More effectively, the addition of freekeh gives it that nice nutty flavour which turns it into a warm comfort soup suitable for a wintery evening. 

Tomato Soup with Freekeh Shorbet Banadoura maa Freekeh

Freekeh Tomato Soup, Shorbet Banadoura maa Freekeh

The Freekeh Tomato Soup recipe described below makes two substantial portions. You can always double the quantity of the ingredients if you want more.

Serves 2

Ingredients for Freekeh Tomato Soup, Shorbet Banadoura maa Freekeh

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes weighing about 400g / 14 oz
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small to medium onion (about 100g/ 4oz) thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic sliced
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • Vegetable or beef stock cubes that will make 450-500ml/ 15 -17 fl oz of stock.
  • 30g / 1¼ oz freekeh whole or cracked: either would do
  • Salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper
  • To garnish (optional), 1or 2 tbsp of freshly chopped herbs such as mint, parsley, coriander, fresh thyme.


  1. I tend to process the chopped tomatoes in the food processor to give the soup a smoother texture, and I do that before cooking. You don’t have to if you don’t want.
  2. Using a medium setting, heat the oil in a medium sized pan then tip in the sliced onions and fry until just softened, a couple of minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute then pour in the processed or chopped tomatoes, mix in the dried mint followed by the stock. Give the mixture a good stir, increase the heat to bring to the boil, then reduce, cover the pan leaving a little gap and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soak the freekeh, especially if it is a loose one, to get rid of any dirt.
  3. When the simmering time is over, taste the mixture and season to taste then drain the freekeh and stir it in. Increase the heat briefly to bring the soup to the boil then simmer covered for another 15 minutes or more until the freekeh is cooked to your taste, some people like it with a bit of crunch, others don’t.
  4. Check again the seasoning and adjust if necessary, then serve as it is or sprinkle on top your favourite herb.

Enjoy your Freekeh Tomato Soup, Shorbet Banadoura maa Freekeh.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Other spellings: Shanklish, shanklish, shanghlish, shinklish, sorke, or sürke

Shankleesh which is part of the mezza, is a semi-hard cheese with a crumbly texture. How is it made?

Basically, it is a combination of cow’s milk and yoghurt (some cheese-makers also use goat’s milk). The milk is boiled then left to cool slightly before adding to it the yoghurt: each litre/ 1¾ pints of milk requires about 180 ml/ 6 fl oz of natural yoghurt. The mixture is then put on a pot stand, thus allowing the air to circulate evenly and it is left to cool down completely before transferring it into the fridge and keeping it there overnight for twelve hours. The following day, the milk-yoghurt mixture is put on a low heat, stirring it constantly until it reaches boiling point, then it is simmered for a couple of minutes before taking it off the heat. Once it has cooled down, it is strained through a cheese cloth, the remaining curd mixture is then seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli powder. It is then divided into portions which in turn will be shaped into balls approximately the size of a tennis ball. These are then stored in a semi-humid place until they are dry from the outside. Next, each ball is wrapped in greaseproof paper, then placed in a large jar or container and transferred into a cool place: the fridge for instance is considered to be a suitable place.  About two weeks later, they turn brown with the formation of a mould on the outside layer: an indication that the cheese has matured. The mould is then peeled off with a knife and each ball is rolled in dried thyme or oregano, or a mixture of both with chilli flakes added for the extra spicy ones. When this is completed, the shankleesh cheese is ready for use.

Buying Shankleesh: 

The golden rule is always go by recommended brand names. Shops or supermarkets tend to sell mostly the ordinary spicy Shankleesh.

Eating and storing Shankleesh:

Shankleesh does not require any seasoning as it is full of flavours. It keeps well in a glass jar in the fridge.  The longer it is kept, the harder it becomes and the flavour develops. It is also perfect for home freezing.

How the Lebanese eat Shankleesh

I am not writing a recipe as such, but here are some suggestions:

  • Shankleesh has a great affinity for onions and extra virgin olive oil. Finely chop a medium onion, preferably red, then take half of a Shankleesh ball and crumble it on top, drizzle generously with some extra virgin olive oil, mix and serve with Lebanese bread, also fresh crusty baguette goes well with it.
  • You could top up this basic recipe with more ingredients such as a finely chopped tasty tomato with a couple of tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley.
  • To add a perfect finish to scrambled eggs: crumble about 1-2 tbsp over two eggs, just a couple of minutes before they finishing cooking and enjoy with bread and a sliced tomato on the side.
White flaky inside of the Shankleesh

A Shankleesh ball cut in half, This shows the white flaky inside of the Shankleesh.


A ball of Shankleesh rolled in herbs as you would buy it

Tags: , , , , ,