Friday, 3 May 2013

Fattoush - Palestinian salad

Without trivializing the Palestinians' situation in the midst of a conflict so prolonged and so multifaceted cooking became even more important for me. It gave me a way  to escape questions without answers and problems that don't seem to have any solutions. That was the one thing I could do - feed my friends and colleagues. The Turkish members of another international organization found it amusing that a dinner at a Scandinavian girls would consist of moussaka, köftes and tzatziki. My Norwegian colleague on the other hand didn't want anything more than mash, meatballs and gravy...

I was lucky to be adopted by a local family whose kitchen provided the venue for cooking schools I had with the mother - a die hard Nigella fan. She loved finally having a daughter that actually loved to cook. So, she taught me Palestinian cooking in exchange for lessons in...Asian cuisine.

Fattoush is a salad I often made. Not only is it light, refreshing and oh, so summery, but also a freat way to use up any stale pitta bread. In that respect this is like an Arabian take on Caesar salad. Originally I think the dish comes from Lebanon, country I haven't yet had the chance to explore outside its cuisine - passport littered with Israeli stamps is not very welcome there...

The use of pitta bread is a testament to the salad's  Middle Eastern origins, but so is the use of sumac. It gives this dish it's unique tang. The combination of tomatos and cucumbers with parsley and mint is a regional classic, but you could add any vegetables you desire.

As a main course this feed 2. As part of meze, this recipe is enough for 4-6 persons.

2 large tomatos
1/2 pepper
1 onion
1/2 large cucumber
1 carrot
generous hadnful of parsley
2 tbsp chopped mint
salt, pepper
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp oil
+ more for brushing the pitta
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
1/2 tl garlic powder
2 pitta bread
1 tbsp sumac

Half the cucumber and remove the seeds with a teaspoon. Chop into slices or chunks of your desired size. Do the same with tomatos and pepper.

Cut the carrot either to julienne ir into shavings, using either a mandolin or a peeler. Slice the onion thinly. Mix the ingredients with chopped herbs.

Cut the pitta bread open and each half into slices/ strips. Brush them with oil, sprinkle the spices (apart from sumac) on top, season and toast at 200 until crisp and golden brown. Mix lemon juice with oil and pour into the sald. Mix well and season. Sprinkle the pita crisps and sumac on top and serve.

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