Sitto’s Baked Meaty Macaroni

Published August 25, 2018

Sitto’s Baked Meaty Macaroni, which she called Macarooneh W’ Lahmeh Bil Fuhrun in Arabic, was one of my mother’s favorite dishes. Today, every time I make this dish, it takes me back to Sitto’s kitchen. I remember that Sitto had a simple white enamel stove with a small oven and a pull-out broiler drawer below that. As if it were yesterday, I could still see her pulling out that broiler tray to reveal her hot Baked Meaty Macaroni supper dish. We all loved the way Sitto browned the top of the macaroni to give it that crunch we all loved. But my Mom always preferred it a dark toasty brown. We’d laugh as she’d say, “Ma, burn it!”

First, Sitto would make her Syrian tomato sauce, with its hint of tamarind, garlic and Aleppo Pepper. The meat, of course, would be ground lamb enhanced with her Datah spice, that Syrian Spice Blend which characterized so many of our Syrian meals. In fact, Sitto would reach for her Datah spice almost every day. It’s one of the reasons I was sure to include the recipe for that Syrian Spice Blend in my second cookbook, Sitto’s Kitchen II. Most Syrian cooks had their own recipes for this blend…what you might call, “their family recipe.” The best way to describe this blend is to imagine walking into a spice shop and inhaling! The several spices in this blend are the signature of Middle Eastern cooking at its best!

The recipe for Sitto’s Baked Meaty Macaroni is on page 108 and her Syrian Spice Blend recipe is on page 62 of Sitto’s Kitchen II Cookbook. You’ll find that having this Syrian Spice Blend in your pantry will help you create so many more unique and fragrant Syrian dishes with just a teaspoon or two of it sprinkled in!