A typical Syrian meal includes rice or flat bread, meat, vegetables, beans, sweets and fruits. The national food is burghol (bulgur), which is wheat that has been steamed, dried and ground. It is added to many dishes, including the national dish, kibbeh, which is made with ground lamb.

Breakfast is served early, often at 6:00 a.m. It is light, consisting of olives, cheese, yogurt and Turkish coffee. Lunch is usually the largest meal of the day. People eat at about 2:00 p.m. and then rest before starting work again. Lunch may begin with appetizers called mezze, followed by chicken or lamb stew, salads, cooked vegetables, bread, pastries and fruit. Dinner is usually light, except during Ramadan and on special occasions, and is served late in the evening. Turkish coffee and tea, served very strong and sweet, follow every meal. 

Syrian dishes use lamb, chicken, dried beans and rice. Garlic, olive oil or purified butterfat are used in many dishes. Hummus (a puree of chickpeas), baba ghanoush (an eggplant puree) and falafel (fried ground chickpeas) are popular Syrian foods. Makkadem (sheep’s feet) is a traditional dish, and is considered a delicacy. The coastal area is known for its shangleach, spiced yogurt. 

  Did you know?
It is not unusual for a host to insist that a guest keep eating until everything on the table is finished. There is an Arab saying that the quantity eaten by a guest reflects his or her affection for the host.
Syrians eat with the right hand, sometimes using flat bread to scoop up food. Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol. They eat halal meat, which has been specially prepared by the butcher according to Muslim traditions.

For a quick snack, Syrian shops sell shawarma, thinly sliced lamb or chicken with garnishes, rolled up in a small piece of flat bread. Depending on the season, street vendors sell unripe almonds dipped in salt, unripe plums, corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts or ripe prickly pears. There are also hundreds of shops where Syrians can buy fresh fruit juice or drinks made with a combination of milk and juice.


375 ml bulgur (fine cracked 
900 g lean ground lamb or beef
1 large onion, ground
Salt and pepper to taste
125 ml cold water


Rinse bulgur in water. Drain the bulgur by cupping it in your hands and squeezing out all the moisture. Add ground meat, onion, salt and pepper. Grind all the ingredients together twice. (If a grinder is not available, knead all ingredients together well.) After grinding or kneading, add cold water to soften, and knead again. In palm of hand flatten balls of the kibbeh until about 2-cm thick, like hamburgers. Fry in hot oil until brown on both sides.

  Did you know?
Arak is a popular anise-flavoured drink, often served as an aperitif. Koravya is a special drink made from caraway seeds. Syrians serve koravya only at special parties that are held ten days after the birth of a child.


  Did you know?
Syrians enjoy food that is either extremely sweet or extremely sour. The country has one of the highest rates of sugar consumption in the world. Syrian soft drinks are the sweetest in the world.