Dandelion Stew

March 28, 2015  •  Category:

Dandelion stew

I bought some zereshk in an Iranian Bazaar event held every year in the basement of the Holiday Inn in downtown Beirut. Going there is a bit surreal. The hotel is  guarded by the army,  and its facade still bears all the marks of the fierce fighting that took place in its midst during the war (the war of the hotels phase): One sees huge shell holes and bullet holes and it is totally empty inside. The parking  is  intact and was packed. In the Bazaar,  Persian rugs galore, nut sellers (the most popular stand), small gadget sellers (I bought several grape leaves stuffers), and so on.

The zereshk are called barberries in English and apparently used to be popular in England at one time. They are found in Middle-Eastern stores, health stores, or online. They can be easily substituted by dried cranberries. Like all other berries, they are full of antioxidants and fiber. The zereshk need to be soaked in water for 15 minutes, drained and patted dry. Prior to serving them, it is a good idea to panfry them in oil or butter for a couple of minutes till glistening and tender.

I was emboldened when I met some Lebanese ladies there who excitedly told me that they used the zereshk for their fattoush or their spinach turnovers (fatayer) instead of sumac. These berries are tangy and a bit sour, just like sumac.

This is an easy and creative version of a dandelion dish (hindbeh bel-zeit) which is part of every good mezze in Lebanon. I had included the recipe in the cookbook and wanted to try something different. Every Lebanese cook I know boils the chopped dandelions, then dumps their water. I came-up with an easier way,  tasty but radically different.


  • 2 or 3 bunches of dandelions, washed, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup prepared muhammara
  • 1 cup zereshk or dried cranberries or raisins or a mixture.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, or honey or molasses

NOTE: If using zereshk, soak them in water 20 minutes, drain them, dry them and pan-fry them in 1/4 cup of oil or butter for 3 minutes over low heat.

1. Place the chopped dandelions in a large soup pot. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Let the dandelions cook gently for 20 minutes, then add the muhammara and stir to combine well. Taste and add more if you like. Add the zereshk and raisins (if using), with one tablespoon of sugar or honey or molasses and stir to combine. Simmer gently another 15 minutes. Serve warm.





9 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Interesting, healthy and surely delicious!



  2. marlene says:

    salut !
    j’aime bien cette recette , simple a faire et dietetique!
    on m’a envoye la video d’un vieux pepe (michel ata) de 103 ans qui recite des poemes de deir el qamar , je n’ai pu m’empecher de vous l’envoyer. la voila:
    bon weekend et a bientot

  3. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    This is something different to me and it looks really intriguing! I’ve had dandelions but nothing like this.

  4. Tandrash says:

    Great article. And to think I spent my whole life believing that this was a useless weed.

    • Joumana says:

      @Tandrash: Thank you and yes, it is an extremely nutritious “weed” with lots of calcium and iron and all kinds of other good-for-you nutrients apparently.

      @leaf(the indolent cook): I like to get adventurous in the kitchen but with ingredients am very familiar with, just had never tried mixing muhammara (basically spiced walnuts and red pepper paste) and greens. I am happy it worked! 🙂

      @marlene: Un grand merci!!!!!!pour la vidéo. C’est une attention que j’apprécie beaucoup! J’ai croisé une fois un homme comme lui (peut-être son frère?). En plus, je connais des gens de votre nom de famille dans cette petite ville charmante.

      @rosa: Thank you!

  5. Marlene says:

    Mais de rien , je vous en prie ! Ca fait plaisir de voir des gens pareils , ca rechauffe le coeur 🙂 ah oui? C’est vrai ? Malheureusement je ne suis pas de deir el qamar :/ mais je l’adore ! Elle a un charme irresistible qui nous oblige a y retourner 🙂

  6. David says:

    This looks very delicious and best of all healthy. How long do you let it simmer is their any things we need to look out for ? i.e. when its gone crispy .or dark ?

    can i use olive oil instead ?

    • Joumana says:

      @David: Actually, olive oil is the oil of choice for making dandelion stew the Lebanese way, with caramelized onions and some garlic. Actually I would let it simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes uncovered over slow heat. It should stay soft and mellow and wet.

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