Chapter Two – “This is not Syrian bread”

Our First Juzmuz (served 20)

  • 1 spoon (think small ladle) of oil
  • Salt
  • 9 onions “smooth cut”
  • 3 red peppers (Yes really, only 3)
  • 10 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 9 eggs
  • Another 8 eggs
  • Pepper
  • More salt
  1. “Smooth cut” (this is Google Translate’s way of saying “finely chop”) the onions and peppers
  2. Run downstairs to the kitchen
  3. Onions in the pan with oil
  4. Now add more oil and a Syrian spoonful (two handfuls) of salt. Leave to sweat for a long time (until they are very very soft and the whole building smells of frying onions)
  5. Add peppers. Again, leave for a long time
  6. Add the tomatoes and leave to simmer for about half an hour
  7. 10-15 mins before serving, crack 9 eggs into a bowl (see below for recommended method). Add salt (yes really, more salt) and pepper and scramble using a spoon
  8. Add into the pan and stir until eggs reappear
  9. Reassess quantities and scramble 8 more eggs (see step 7 for method)
  10. Serve with…

Not Quite Syrian Bread (served 30+)

  • 3kg plain white flour
  • 3 handfuls salt
  • 3 small handfuls sugar
  • 9 tablespoons oil (no spoon required)
  • 6 sachets yeast
  • Enough water to make a dough
  1. Divide all ingredients into three bowls
  2. Put flour, salt, sugar, oil, yeast and some water (yes, that’s everything) into each bowl and mix, adding more water until a dough is formed
  3. Knead a bit, then pass it over to a pro for some serious kneading (see photo below for recommended method)
  4. Cover bowls with tea towels and leave to rise for about an hour
  5. Break off a handful of dough and flip, stretch or roll using rolling pin/cup/bottle, into a disc the size of a small plate
  6. Don’t be overwhelmed when you end up with 45+ discs of dough
  7. Try to find enough baking trays to accommodate said discs of dough
  8. Ask yourself how you’re going to cook 45 pieces of bread in a single oven
  9. Find another oven.
  10. Bake in a preheated oven (220C) for approximately 5 mins on each side, or until golden brown. Serve piping hot

What we have omitted to mention in the above, is that we started off by making yesterday’s focaccia recipe with four of the Orange House residents. Once the focaccie were ready to go in the oven, and the juzmuz underway, we suggested that one of the ladies teach us how to make Syrian flatbreads to accompany the traditional juzmuz. This is how we ended up with 45 flatbreads and four large focaccie – or, more accurately, four large focaccie, 20 Not Syrian flatbreads and 25 Italian-Syrian flatbreads. To explain, halfway through baking our Syrian flatbreads, we were halted by one tutting resident who informed us that these were “not Syrian breads” but Italian pizza, suggesting that we sprinkle the remaining dough with herbs and garlic instead. Despite this, everyone agreed that the breads made perfect juzmuz spoons and delicious snacks throughout the afternoon.
As for the juzmuz, it was delicious and a wonderful first taste of traditional Syrian cuisine, although one visitor did inform us that he would have scrambled the eggs before adding them to the tomatoes, to which Sabah replied, “next time you can cook for us, then”. He smiled back and happily tucked into seconds.

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