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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center

Slee'a for Saint Barbara - 'Ideesa Barbara

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It is traditional to eat boiled wheat on the feast day of Saint Barbara - 'Ideesa Barbara. This dish is a highly sweetened boiled wheat or barley, which is usually garnished with fruits, nuts, and candies.

The boiled wheat is symbolic of how Holy Great-Martyr Barbara was supposedly fed by birds while imprisoned by her pagan father.

This dish is also called "emeh", "ilbee", or "iyouk".

Recipe

This recipe is from A guide to the Domestic Church by Eparchy of Newton, Office of Educational Services, Roslindale, Massachusetts, United States. This recipe comes courtesy of Khouriyye Fran Russo.

Recipes for the dish vary, according to the region and what is available.

2 or 3 pounds of unhulled wheat
l or 2 boxes confectioner's sugar
walnuts
1 box white raisins
pomegranate seeds
white sugar coated almonds
cinnamon sticks
anise seed (optional)
orange water (optional)

Place the wheat in a large bowl with cold water to cover and 2 tablespoons of baking soda and soak overnight.

Drain, rinse and place in a large pot with plenty of fresh water.

Bring to a boil and simmer with several cinnamon sticks for from 3 to 5 hours, stirring frequently to prevent the wheat from sticking.

Test for doneness (note: a small amount of wheat should be allowed to cool before testing since it tends to harden when cool).

When the wheat is soft but not mushy, strain and spread out on a clean white cloth for several hours or overnight.

Place in a large bowl and mix with one or 2 boxes of confectioner's sugar, the chopped walnuts, raisins, pomegranate seeds and orange water. Decorate with the almonds.

The Ode to Holy Great-Martyr Barbara is often sung when the slee'a / emeh / ilbee / iyouk is eaten.


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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center
Martha Liles
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Melkite Greek Catholic Church Information Center is dedicated to my cousins: Bucky (Richard C. Liles) and Shirley (Shirley Jean Liles Buck). Bucky fell asleep in the Lord on Dec. 12, 2000 and Shirley fell asleep in the Lord on Nov. 8, 2001.
O God of all spirits and of all flesh, who have destroyed death, overcome the devil, and given life to the world: grant, O Lord, to the souls of your servants Bucky and Shirley, who has departed from this life, that it may rest in a place of light, in a place of happiness, in a place of peace, where there is no pain, no grief, no sighing. And since You are a gracious God and the Lover of Mankind, forgive him/her every sin he/she has committed by thought, or word, or deed, for there is not a man who lives and does not sin : You alone are without sin, your righteousness is everlasting, and your word is true. You are the Resurrection and the Life, and the repose of your departed servants Bucky and Shirley. O Christ our God, and we send up glory to You, together with your eternal Father and your all-holy, good and life-givng Spirit, now and always and for ages upon ages. Amen.

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