Ingredient: Kishk Powder

I can just imagine how kishk came to be, in the chill mountains of Lebanon where there was a need to store up nutrient-rich, delicious foodstuffs for the winter months (this is the Lebanese food preservation tradition known as mouneh). Like the ultra good-for-you lentil and rice combo in mujadara, powdered kishk is made fromĀ powerhouses in the nutrition department, laban (yogurt) and bulghur (cracked wheat).

The making of kishk powder is very old country, which is pretty much the only place it is made: the laban and bulghur are kneaded together like a dough for many consecutive days as it dries out, under the Lebanese summer sun of course, and ferments. The laban is serious protein and gets tangier the longer it ferments; the cracked wheat is a near-perfect grain, nutty in flavor and packed with sustenance.

The dried amalgam is then ground into a powder which is then used to make lots of things, but most especially a soup that is the very definition of porridge. Goldilocks must have been a brunette under it all, a Lebanese who liked her kishk so much she would break and enter just to get her bowls full.

Kishk is not all that easy to find, which may explain why it was never a part of our kitchen at home. If you’re lucky enough to have a local Middle Eastern grocery, they should have kishk powder. Buy kishk online from the great Kalustyan’s, which carries kishk imported from Beirut, or go all the way and try some from my favorite maker of organic mouneh, Mymouneh, online here at BuyLebanese, a great resource for ordering hard-to-find products from Lebanon.

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12 Responses to Ingredient: Kishk Powder

  1. I love eating kishk. My family used to make it in two versions. One eaten hot as a soup and the other served cold with fried onions on top. I loved both versions. So so good. We ate it with roast chiken on the side.
    Can’t wait for your recipe.

  2. Greg Carpenter says:

    Once again you have introduced me to something completely new!

  3. My daughter’s favorite way to eat kishek is on a man’ooshe.

  4. Marian Boulus says:

    Maureen,
    I am so happy to see your post on kishk. My husband, Michael, loves it. His father made it during Passover for the family. I have never made it but would like to make it for Michael. Michael found the powder kishk in Dearborn. So I have it in the freezer but have no idea how to prepare it. Looking forward to your recipe.
    Marian

  5. Roger Toomey says:

    Dad made it homemade starting with the cow for the milk for luban and raw wheat from the grain bin that was boiled and dried and ground for the burlghur. He had a fine grinder in order to make the powder after it was dried. It takes several days and drying it in the sun on hot still summer days would probably be too unsanitary for most today but we didn’t think about our food being exposed to the open air with only a thin “rag” covering it. My Grandmother had it in a huge crock container year round. It was a staple like potatoes to an Irishman. I don’t really know what all she used it in but it was the main breakfast treat whenever we were there. I guess people would call it a gruel today. I think it also went into meat dishes making a different tasting kubbi. A little different from the more bland regular kubbi with the luban flavor along with the usual ingredients.

    One has to be a little careful when trying to buy it. One store had golf ball sized “rocks” that they told me were much better than powder. Never did figure out how to melt them. I left them in water for several days and they didn’t soften. Then another time I was in a Pakistan store and they had a liquid in a jar that they swore was the same thing. It was not the same as Lebanese kishik even though they use the same name.

    In desperation I have used whole wheat flour and luban/yogurt as a substitute. It is a substitute but not the original.

    We fried ground or finely cubed meat and onions then made a “gravy” that we served over toast or in a bowl which we dipped with flat bread.

  6. Mora says:

    I discovered your blog from your comment on David Lebovitz’s most recent Lebanon posting. How happy I am to come across your recipes. In the late 1960s my parents and I would spend a week each summer in Beirut visiting friends who used to own the Alcazar Hotel. My memories of those times are some of my most treasured. The meals we shared at their large family table still ignite my tastebuds. There was a freshness about the most simple dishes that I never found anywhere else. It surely must have been the soil and the love that went into making each and every dish. Your writings and photographs are wonderful and I can’t wait for your next posting. Thank you!

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Hello Mora, and welcome! What wonderful memories of Beirut you have, and your sense of the freshness is so true. Thank you for your comment, and please stay in touch!

  7. Verna says:

    Forgot to mention. You can buy the kishik powder at

    buylebanese.com

  8. mike says:

    At this very moment, I am drying kishk in my oven, after letting it ferment for 9 days. I’ll grind it into powder, then will be using it in a soup. It’s really not hard to make: Combine half a cup of bulgur with 1 cup of yogurt and knead daily, for 9 days. Mine sat in a covered bowl in my living room. Today, the 10th day, I kneaded in a half teaspoon of sea salt, then spread the kishk out on a cookie sheet and am drying it in a very low oven. I would have dried in the sun, but it’s an overcast day, so… Once it’s dry, I’ll grind it to a powder in a mortar and pestle.

    • Maureen Abood says:

      Mike, I’m fascinated!! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll be tempted to make my own kishk now!

      • mike says:

        I just made a vegi soup with the finished kishk; it came out great! The kishk added a smoky cheese flavor, with just a touch of sourness. And it thickened the soup.
        I’m making more kishk tomorrow, since it will be a new key ingredient in my various soups.

 

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