Cooking Fakde, a Traditional Syrian Dish
Adelle Tarzibachi and her company, Les Filles Fattoush, pay homage to her native Syria. Learn to cook a traditional Syrian dish for the holidays.
Text—Marie Charles Pelletier
In partnership with
Adelle Tarzibachi arrived in Montréal in 1988. Wintry streets replaced the familiar warm Syrian weather. In the kitchen with her mother and grandmother, spices and stories brought back happy memories of Aleppo. Years later, Tarzibachi became an entrepreneur; guided by a desire to weave a lasting relationship between Canada and her country of origin, she co-founded Les Filles Fattoush.
In 2017 there was a local initiative to create a company that would support the wave of Syrian immigrants. The project was started by documentary filmmaker Josette Gauthier and carried out by Geneviève Comeau and Tarzibachi, who knew only too well the overwhelming feeling of arriving in a country you know nothing about. In a kitchen in Town of Mount Royal, Les Filles Fattoush gives Syrian refugee women a first opportunity for employment and offers Montrealers a taste of their culture. Every day these women highlight Syrian flavours, preparing ready-to-eat dishes and helping to import kilos of spices.
The company offers opportunities for its workers to integrate in their new home and helps them to break their isolation. The first step toward autonomy, as Tarzibachi tells us, is to find a job and contribute to the new community. There’s also something comforting in working with her fellow countrywomen: carpooling at 5 a.m. before the sun is up, having a coffee break together around 11, and talking about their weekends in their mother tongue, Arabic. And above all, there is comfort in keeping their culture alive in a new place.
In this kitchen, the women find hope and the pride of sharing recipes from the country they had to leave.
Here’s how to make this festive meal, eaten during the holiday season.
- 113 g [½ cup] unsalted butter or ghee
- 1 leg of lamb, about 2 kg [4 ½ lb]
- 3 to 5 cups of white wine (optional)
- 3 stalks of celery, with leaves
- 2 carrots
- 1 onion, halved
- Parsley leaves (to taste)
- 4 cardamom pods
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- 22 ml [1 ½ Tbsp] peppercorns
- 7 ml [½ Tbsp] salt
- 1 package cremini mushrooms
- 235 ml [1 cup] baby potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 150 °C [300 °F].
- Melt the butter or ghee in a large cooking pot over medium heat. When it’s hot, sear the lamb on all sides, using a fork to prick it.
- Fill the pot one-third full with water (or white wine, for a richer taste). Add the celery, carrots, onion, parsley, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, ginger, pepper, and salt.
- Cover and place the pot in the oven for about four hours, or until the meat is tender and flakes with a fork. After the first two hours in the oven, add the mushrooms and potatoes.
- Transfer the lamb to a large serving platter. Place the celery, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes around it. Strain the cooking juices through a sieve before pouring into a bowl or gravy boat.
Tarzibachi recommends serving the lamb with freekeh, a rice alternative made of smoked wheat garnished with almonds, cashews, and pine nuts.
Enjoy with family or friends!
Learn more about Adelle Tarzibachi and Les Filles Fattoush in the series Les chemins de travers. The series presents stories — not always smooth — of people who have decided to step outside the box, or to rethink it. Presented by BESIDE in partnership with Desjardins.