Food

Fatteh, a humble chickpea dish

Fatteh is a popular dish in the Levant and is especially popular during Ramadan. Source: Antonio Tahhan

The rush before iftaar (breaking of the fast) during Ramadan resembles something of a stampede in our household. If your life is anything like mine, you might want to ease the stress and fill your hungry bellies with a dish of delightful simplicity.

The Lebanese know food. No, really. We might be off on the shoy/shay debacle, but when it comes to tingling your taste buds, we know how to satisfy.
 
You probably know it as fatteh; we call it tusi’yah, for reasons neither my Mama nor Google could explain.
 
Fatteh means “to tear into small pieces”. The name of the dish draws inspiration from the process of tearing loaves of bread into smallish pieces.
 
The great thing about fatteh is that the construction of the dish needn’t be all that neat, meaning the most careless cook can turn this dish into a near masterpiece.
 
As I annoyed interviewed Mama about a recipe, she said to me, “Arabs don’t measure ingredients, we just know”.
 
I wish that was true.
 
I did my best to extract specific portions from her, but you should know that tweaking any dish to your liking is part of the creative culinary process (says the girl who cooks three times a year). So tweak away, but I take no responsibility for your dissatisfaction.
 
Ingredients:
1. 1 loaf of Lebanese bread*
2. 1 ½ – 2 cups of boiled chickpeas (depending on how chickpeasy you like your fatteh)
3. 2 cups of natural yoghurt
4. ½ a tsp of salt
5. 2 tsps of tahini
6. 1 tbsp of lemon or vinegar (optional)
7.60g of butter (for melting)
8. 1 handful of toasted pine nuts (to garnish)
9. 150g of minced meat (optional)
10. Crushed clove of garlic (to taste) – this is totally optional. If you’re going to eat this and then socialise, either invest in Tic Tacs or refrain from using garlic. This is a public service announcement.
 
Method:

1. Begin by breaking the Lebanese bread into smallish pieces (the size of a 20c coin).
2. Place the bread into a microwavable bowl and microwave for 50 seconds (till slightly crispy). Put to the side.
3. Begin to melt the butter in a small saucepan with the pine nuts, and fry the pine nuts until they are a light golden brown.
4. Add minced meat to the pine nuts and fry until the mince is done. Turn off the stove but leave the melted butter, pine nuts and mince in the saucepan to keep warm.
5. Lay the (now crispy) bread evenly across a serving dish of your choice.
6. Slowly scoop the boiled chickpeas (including some of the chickpea water) onto the layer of bread. Ensure it is evenly spread.
7. In a separate bowl thoroughly mix the yoghurt, tahini, salt, lemon/vinegar and crushed garlic.
8. Spread the yoghurt mix over the chickpeas evenly.
9. Slowly pour the melted butter, pine nuts and minced meat over the top.
 
Voila, dinner is served!
 

*Each bag of Lebanese bread usually contains seven loaves. If you purchase a bag with less and you’ve paid anything more than 80 cents for it, you have been utterly ripped off. Leave your hipster suburb and head to Lakemba, Punchbowl or Greenacre (if you live in Sydney) for a bread purchase that will rock your sheltered world.

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Categories: Food, Ramadan Cookbook

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