Today is a big, BIG day. weeeee.
First- there will be TWO blog posts today. Double weeeee!!
Second- today is the Assyrian New Year! Happy Kha b’Nissan everyone!!!
And if you’re wondering, no, this is not an April fools joke. It sucks having your people’s New Year on April 1st, but per the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, that’s the date we’re stuck with every year. The 1st is aptly chosen though, as “Kha b’Nissan” translates to “the first of (the month of) Nissan.” (Maybe we should call it "Kha b'April" instead?) And seeing that we’re in the year 6760- that’s a lotta Nissans!
To celebrate I decided to make some of my favorite Assyrian foods. And in celebration mode I decided to focus on the more appetizer-y type foods, or meza, as we like to call them. Here we have (from the front to the back): mestah khiareh shibbit (a yogurt dish), masheh (kidney bean) salad, and marchalous (a mashed potato dish).
For this post I’ll focus on mestah khiareh shibbit (the yogurt) and save the other two for future posts.
So why do I love “mestah khiareh shibbit” so much? Lots of reasons.
1. It’s name. “Mestah khiareh shibbit” LITERALLY translates to “yogurt cucumber dill.” And guess what 3 out of 4 ingredients in this dish are?? Good guess! I think it’s hilarious. Gotta love Assyrians: quite possibly the most uncreative name for a dish ever.
2. Eating it reminds me of the arrival of spring and summer, my favorite seasons after the long, cold Chicago winters.
3. Eating it reminds me of family. We often made it in ginormous quantities for family gatherings, where we’d sit outside in the warm summer months and eat the cool yogurt and crunchy cucumber by the bowlful.
It’s best with homemade yogurt (hmmm, more ideas for future posts) and fresh dill. But regular yogurt (preferably the creamy, tart kind) and dried dill work well too.
In a bowl mix together the yogurt, finely chopped cucumbers, dill and salt to taste. Feel free to eat it right away, but if you let it sit for at least an hour or more it’ll help marry the flavors. Just make sure to serve it super chilled.
And creating these dishes for my Kha b’Nissan post reminded me that I really don’t cook homemade Assyrian/ Middle Eastern food enough. Yet another thing to add on my to-do list…