Kishk (kishik/kashuk) is one of those things that I think only really hard-core Middle Eastern food enthusiasts are into. And yes, you should take that as a challenge. But honestly, kishk really isn't that hard to love, at least not in the form I'm giving you today.
But first, let's get some basics down. Kishk is a mixture of yogurt and bulgur that can be served in a mezze spread. Easy, right? It can be found all over the Levant, also with names like jameed and tarhana, but each version is a little different, so I'm going to stick to the Syrian version today. Second of all, there's fresh kishk and dried kishk. Fresh kishk is, again, a simple mixture of yogurt and bulgur. In my local cheese shop in Damascus they always had at least three bins of different kinds of fresh kishk - one newly made that day, one a day old, and one two days old. Syrians reaaalllly love kishk. As it ages is becomes drier and crumblier. For the dried version kishk is aged in the sun until very dry, then it's ground to a powder and stored until winter, when it's rehydrated into a soup. Dried kishk is also used in a topping for mana'ish, a kind of pizza.
Most people immediately think of the dried version of kishk, but I think the fresh version is too often overlooked. It's like your favorite labne spread at the mezze table, only bulked up with a little texture. It's often served with a nice refreshing salad on top, full of crunchy cucumbers, mint, and scallions. We make simple mezze at home often just for dinner, or it's nice to serve to guests before a dinner party. Then you too can tell them all you know about kishk!
Fresh Kishk with Herbs
For the kishk:
300 grams (.6 lbs) labne (make you own here)
2 tablespoons very fine grade bulgur (do not use thick whole-grain type bulgur)
For the salad:
half a small cucumber, large seeds removed and diced
1 sprig of mint, leaves sliced
1 scallion, light and dark green parts only, sliced on the bias
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt, to taste
pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes
1. Combine the labne, bulgur, and salt. Let sit at least one hour to soften (about 2 hours is my preferred waiting time). You can prepare this as far ahead as the day before, leaving it in the fridge, but be aware you may have to add more labne to thin the texture.
2. Combine all the salad ingredients and mix to taste.
3. Spoon the kishk into a serving platter. Sprinkle the salad over top. Serve.