Italy has polenta, the south has grits, but Lebanon has something similar in idea but a completely different execution. Kishik is a lebanese porridge, what makes it different from the two mentioned is its ingredients and what is done to create it. Kishik is made with Bulgar Wheat fermented in milk and yogurt (Laban) and is created by mixing the two ingredients and letting them ferment over several days. Once the fermentation is complete it is then dried out by the sun, and pounded into a fine powder. If you have a family member who does this in Lebanon like I do, you’ll get a batch of kishik every year without fail that is absolutely perfect. However, if you want to try it but don’t have such a connection you can buy Kishik powder at a Middle Eastern food store. My Ammo (Uncle) happens to own one if I ever find myself with such a need
Typically for breakfast Kishik is made into a porridge containing meat. I’ve found that you can pretty much put whatever you’d like into it. The taste is definitely an acquired one as it is using fermented dairy to create it,plus it is preserved with salt! Although, if you are ever looking for a savory breakfast with a bit of a tang to it this might be right up your alley!
I remember as a kid there would be mornings I’d come down the stairs and take a deep wiff of the smell knowing that my dad was making a breakfast for him and I to enjoy. For a really long time, he and I were the only ones in our house who even liked kishik. I’d get so excited and smile because it was a special treat for me. He’d give me a spoon, but honestly, I am a barbarian and I hate all cutlery. If it were up to me I’d eat with my hands. In this case, I would use the lebanese bread to scoop up the kishik and add a green pepper to the mix for a bit of freshness in there. On the first bite it’s always a bit nostalgic for me, the warmth of the kishik like a childhood friend. It’s a food that I associate with my earliest of childhood memories. My mom eventually started eating it with us, but it took a few years. On a cool morning still in my pajamas I’d find myself having a deep meaningful conversation with my mom and dad. I always will feel closest to my father when I eat kishik. It is a dish he always made just for us to share.
-4 Cloves of Garlic sliced thinly
¼ LB of Ground Beef (optional: if you’re vegetarian you can forgo this and it will be just fine!)
1-2 Cups of Kishik Powder
Water to desired consistency (usually like a semi thick porridge)
Saute the garlic in olive oil or butter until golden brown. Don’t let them get too brown though, garlic can definitely burn easy! Add the ground beef if you desire and stir it around until it is fully cooked. Then, you will add the kishik powder. Mix everything together so that it soaks the flavor of the garlic and beef. Let it sit like that for about 10-15 seconds, then add the water slowly. Let the kishik warm into a rolling boil, that is the best way to see the consistency. If it is too soupy add more powder and if too thick add more water. Once ready serve in a bowl with lebanese bread and vegetables. Personal preference is red onion and green bell peppers but you could pair it with most anything!
Is there a special dish that makes you think of a loved one?