DALIA’S KITCHEN: MAMA’S FATTEH
Syrian-German food personality, writer and blogger Dalia Dogmoch Soubra speaks to A Mag about the dish she loved as a child, one her mother used to make.
If there is one dish that symbolizes my mother’s cooking, it would have to be any sort of fatteh. I have vivid memories as a child of her preparing several types of this glorious yoghurt meal; from chickpea to aubergine and chicken. I love them all, but the one she made the most at home was the Fatteh’d Jaj. The chicken was always so tender and gorgeously infused with flavors of cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon and other spices. I have vivid memories of the chicken simmering away in the spiced water, the cutting up of Arabic bread into small squares, which would later be fried in a little butter in a pan, or the whisking of the yoghurt.
I still hear my mom telling me to stop munching on the crispy little breads while she was cooking them in batches. I would steal more than a few during the process, and she would always get upset and tell me to wait, since she needed them to top the fatteh at the end. And making that glorious yoghurt with mom was always as fun as it was delicious. There was something therapeutic about stirring the beautiful laban with garlic, tahini and spices. It also didn’t require any cooking, so she would let young, little me do it all by myself.
My mom still does Fatteh the exact same way today, and I still steal the crispy, fried bread before they make it to the top of the dish. Once it’s ready there’s her classic, frantic yelling for everyone to come to the table – so we all eat it while it’s hot. All these details about my mother’s fatteh and the way she serves it, have today been passed on to my own young family. Oddly enough, my husband and kids also steal the crispy bread. Although, perhaps that’s not odd at all. I have learned from the best to make sure to prepare an extra large portion so there will be enough to sprinkle on my fatteh at the end.Syrian-German food personality, writer and blogger Dalia Dogmoch Soubra celebrates the dish she loved as a child,one her mother used to make.
DALIA’S CHICKEN FATTEH RECIPE
serves 4-6 * prep time: 20 minutes * cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
2 medium chickens (about 2.5lbs each), cut into pieces with bone and skin, 6-8 cups water, 1 tbsp. cardamom, 1 tbsp. salt, 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves. For the yoghurt sauce: 6 cups low fat yoghurt, ¼ cup water, 2 tbsp. tahini (sesame paste), 2-3 garlic cloves, using garlic press, salt
and pepper to taste, 1 large Arabic flat bread, ¼ cup toasted pine nuts, ¼ cup
toasted almonds, ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
1 Place the chicken and water in a large stockpot on a high heat, making sure that there is enough water to just cover the chicken. Add the cardamom seeds, salt, pepper, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and bring to the boil.
2 Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the chicken is tender, approximately 45-60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin and take the chicken meat off the bone.
3 Take 1 cup of the chicken broth, pass through a sieve and simmer in a small saucepan over high heat until reduced by half. Set aside.
4 While the chicken is cooking whisk the yoghurt with the water to loosen it up a little. Add the sesame paste, garlic, salt and pepper to taste and whisk well. Set aside.
5 Cut the Arabic bread into squares, and either sauté them in a pan with a little oil, or toast them in the oven and set aside.
6 Assemble the dish by layering a serving dish with a little of the yogurt mixture, place the chicken on top, drizzle some reduced stock, add more yoghurt and top with the toasted bread, nuts and parsley. Enjoy.
Food, Love and Life from Dalia’s Kitchen (CPI Publishing, 2013) is available in Beirut at Virgin, Librairie Antoine and Papercup and at various bookstores worldwide, as well as Amazon. daliaskitchen.com
© Dalia Dogmoch Soubra/Food, Love and Life