Hands Up’s regular blogger, Melie Pemberton, a teacher currently living in Beirut, has sent us her next update. Melie explains about the deep entrenchment of Syrians and their food, as well as sharing a recipe for all to enjoy!
Although not a fan of stereotyping, I can’t help but acknowledge that I am yet to come across a Syrian who does not fit into the category of being incredibly friendly, generous and welcoming. As a result of this, I can say with absolute certainty that all Syrians are feeders (demonstrated by the expansion of my stomach). Having been privileged enough to be invited into their homes a number of times for food, I have developed a deep love for Levantine cuisine…and a tendency to overuse some necessary Arabic words and phrases (khalas – enough, karrouche – belly, and shabaanee – I’m full!!).
A dish that has become a firm favourite, ordered at every opportunity, is the irresistible hummus fatteh! You cannot go to the Levant without experiencing it.
There are many variations of this dish, but the ever-so-simple recipe, that I have included below, was cooked for us last week by Tarek, our lovely friend from Aleppo. He was excited at the prospect of it being shared with you all!
Serves: 6 people eaten with bread as part of a mezza or as a starter.
Layer 1 – 3 pieces of Arabic bread/ pita (good opportunity to use up stale bread), olive oil.
Layer 2 – 750g chickpeas.
Layer 3 – 250g yoghurt, 500g hummus, 2 garlic cloves, a large glug of olive oil, 1 tsp cumin, juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons tahini, salt, pepper and a pinch of sumac.
Layer 4 – knob of butter, large handful of mixed pine nuts, cashew nuts and chopped almonds and some optional pomegranate seeds.
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1. Tear up the bread into pieces about 2 cm by 2 cm. Place a frying pan onto a high heat with a thick layer of olive oil covering the bottom. When hot, fry the pieces of bread until crispy. Spread them out on the bottom of a serving bowl – layer 1.
2. Boil the ready to eat chickpeas for 5 minutes. When they’re boiled put a couple of tablespoons of the water, and all the chickpeas, on top of the bread – layer 2.
3. Mix all the ingredients required for layer 3 and place this on the chickpeas.
4. Fry the nuts in butter and place them on the fatteh to serve (add optional pomegranate here).
(Liability waiver: the writer accepts no responsibility for excessive eating and any further effects this may have on the bowels.)
I have included pictures from a couple of meals we have attended, our attempt at a feast (no prizes for guessing which one) and a close up of the hummus fatteh. Enjoy!