There is rarely a family get-together where the main meal is not accompanied by a group of side dishes that are of the traditional flavors of our history in Syria. Many of our meat dishes are sweet, sour and savory all at once — often with warm spices and dried fruits.
When at a celebration such as a religious holiday, Sabbath meal or an American holiday, the turkey or a roasted beef or chicken dish is the focus of the table, of course. But the side dishes are like little gems sprinkled through the meal, which is almost always done as follows:
1. The main focus dish of beef, fowl or fish.
2. A stuffed vegetable dish such as Mesche (zucchini, tomato, cabbage leaves, carrots, potatoes or onions scooped out and stuffed with Hashu, a spiced meat and rice filling) or Yebrat (brined stuffed grape leaves, usually made with dried fruit and tamarind sauce (also referred to as oot).
3. Rice made with a browned noodle and a sauce usually made of a tomato base with a meat or meatball (Keftes or Blahat).
4. A vegetable dish such as string beans or peas made with warm spices and sometimes a braised beef on the bones (flanken).
I am going to share my family version of Yebrat, or rolled stuffed grape leaves.