Undoubtedly one of Lebanon’s delicacies, a product of thousands of years of culinary refinement, “kishk” equals the world’s most renowned dairy products.
The name “Kishk” originates from the Persian word “kashk”, referring to a mix of cracked wheat and cracked Barley.
Characterized as a fermented milk product, “kishk” made of bulgur – cracked parboiled wheat – mixed with either milk or yogurt, is prepared in different ways and is used in the cuisines of Iran, Turkey, Mongolia, Transcaucasia and the Levant, namely Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan.
Kishk has been prepared and consumed in Lebanon since the 10th century. It can be prepared using cow, sheep or goat milk; however, the kishk found on the local market is made with cow milk exclusively as goat milk gives it a strong, acidic taste, which might not be appealing to the wider public.
A common food in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Turkey, “Kishk” season starts in the summer, when milk production is at its best and sun heat at its peak. Cracked wheat is soaked in milk or yogurt for almost a week and fermentation is kept under control by adding small amounts of dairy every few days. After cracked wheat soaks in the dairy products and fermentation reaches the right degree, the pre-final product is an edible dough named “kishk akhdar” or “green kishk”. At this stage, this type of “kishk” can be formed into small balls and conserve them in olive oil for consumption in wintertime.
HOW TO PREPARE IT
Traditionally, kishk is prepared with brown wheat bulgur; but most consumers prefer a light colored, whitish version.
During the first four days after soaking bulgur in yogurt, it is rubbed by hand on a daily basis, to make sure that the yogurt is fully absorbed by the coarse bulgur grains. Meanwhile, more yogurt is added gradually in order to keep the mixture from drying out. Salt is also added to the mixture to prevent mold formation. Kishk is then left to ferment for nine days, after which a “green” kishk is obtained, which is consumed fresh like labneh, or conserved in Extra Virgin olive oil in glass jars.
To prepare it, kishk is spread on cloth sheets on village rooftops to dry under the sun. Every morning, it is rubbed between the palms of the hands to break the kishk mixture into smaller pieces and accelerate the drying process. When fully dry,
kishk is sifted, then ground into a fine powder to become the kishk mix we know.
Traditionally, rubbing and sifting kishk was considered as a social event when the neighborhood women used to gather on a roof to help each other, an occasion to share stories and anecdotes.
HOW TO USE IT
The use of dry kishk differs among Lebanese regions:
- Salads wild mint and kishk salad Meeykeh
- Soups shorbet Kishk and “Kishkiyye
- Fillings for turnovers or mana’eesh, wheat-flour dough with kishk maacaroon b kishk, meat raviolis with kishk shish barak b kishk
- Hot dishes such as kebbeh with kishk kebbeh b kishk, kishk with eggs kishk aala bayd, cabbage with kishk malfouf aala kishk and more.
Nutritional information from FHF
Kishk is a very nutritive food rich in fiber, protein, fat, minerals and carbs. Its dairy (milk & yogurt) and cereal
(cracked wheat) constituents complement each other to provide optimal nutrition.
Indeed, the yogurt and milk make up for the protein limited in the wheat and the wheat provides a good source
of minerals (Iron, Copper, and Magnesium) that are deficient in milk.