Local Cuisine

Most people in that part of the area to the east of the Mediterranean think of Aleppo as the ‘foodie’ capital of the region. The cuisine is partly based on dishes that subsistance farmers have developed over hundreds, or even thousands, of years. These are almost always vegetarian, using things like lentils, wheat and the sort of beans that go into tins of baked beans, plus fresh vegetables and olive oil. A favourite of mine is Mjedera, where you take equal amounts of burghul and brown lentils, and as much onion as you can be bothered to chop. You soak the lentils, then rinse them and simmer them in a good-sized pan until they are cooked but still in their skins. After that, you rinse the burghul, add it to the lentils and cook the two together with a good sprinkling of salt – the burghul doesn’t take long. While this is going on you fry the onions in olive oil, and just before serving you pour the fried onions and the oil over the burghul and lentils and stir it in. It is good with natural yoghurt or with salad, depending on the time of the year. Eating this dish, you know you are part of a very ancient tradition, perhaps going back almost to the time when your ancestors first settled down and started planting fields instead of foraging and hunting.

Leave a Reply