Hark besbao is a very traditional and popular dish from Damascus, Syria. It was cooked in the film by Diala with her aunt, Randa, who was showing her how to cook it, and her mother, Bhahija. They described how, in the past, this dish would be cooked by many women together, before going to the hammam to bathe. Women from up and down the street, both Muslim and Christian, would gather together, taking the food with them. After bathing, they would eat together in a special room in the hammam. They would also sing and dance. Nowadays, families gather together in the courtyards within the homes. There are fruit trees to give them shade, and the sound of trickling water. The families gather together to eat the food, and drink tea or the strong, black Syrian coffee.
about 8-10 cloves of garlic
a large bunch of coriander leaves
salt and pepper
How to make
Cook the lentils in a large pot with plenty of water.
Put 1 or 2 tbsp flour in a bowl, and mix with water.
When the lentils are cooked, add the floury mixture and stir until boiling.
Add about a cup of olive oil to the lentils.
Chop the coriander, and add about half to the pot.
Add cumin to taste.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Crush the garlic cloves, and put about half in the pot. Stir well.
Squeeze the juice from the 2 lemons.
Add the juice to the lentils bit by bit, tasting as you go.
Slice the 2 onions quite thinly, and fry them until crispy. Put aside.
Add the oil that was used to fry the onions to the lentils.
Cut the pitta bread in to small 3-4 cm squares. Add some to the pot, and stir until they are soft.
Mix together the remaining crushed garlic and chopped coriander.
To serve, put the lentils onto the place with a pile of the coriander and garlic mixture. Lastly cover with some of the crunchy onions.