This recipe comes from the tolling bells, the calling muezzins, and the swishing tzizits of Jerusalem’s walled city, and the bustling, busy capital of Amman.
During our summer in the Old City, we happened across a charming little falafal stall tucked away in one of the many windy streets, run by a fiesty but enigmatic little lady who twittered away in Arabic leaving us unable to do anything by smile delightedly back at her!
Then, when we found ourselves in Amman, there was an amazing cafe, Hasham’s, too popular to be contained by it’s walls, and spilling out across the street. After the first night, we went back almost daily for a week. The hugely friendly and welcoming owners and chefs proudly showed us the photos of their famous guests (“our VIPS!”) and the many articles written about them. And for very good reason.
So we adapted bits from both until we found our own Arabic feast that has become a firm favourite. One of the loveliest things about this as a meal is, as at Hasham’s, you can get all sorts of pretty bowls out to put all the various bits and pieces in!
It’s such a colourful meal, with so many different options depending on what you want that time around, and it’s so easy!
– Pitta breads
– Olive oil
– Lemon Juice
It’s difficult to know where to start, there are lots of different things to get ready, but you’ll find this will all come together (somehow)… that said, it is much easier if you have someone to help!
First thing’s first, the salad. Get your tomatoes and cucumber, about an equal measure of cucumber to each tomato, and dice them up into little cubes. Pick the most colourful bowl you can and mix them up with a splash of lemon juice.
Next, the onions. All you need to do, in true Amman style, is peel and quarter the onion and make sure you have another little bowl standing by. The lettuce can be sorted in much the same way, rip it into suitable pitta-sized pieces and pop it in a bowl. And of course, the olives need nothing more either!
Onto the main elements! So, the falafals and the hummus. Take a tin of chickpeas, a couple of cloves of garlic (peeled and crushed), a sizeable glug of olive oil, a splash of lemon juice, and a decent tablespoon of tahini, and into a deep mug or bowl it all goes! Get your blender to work and whiz it all up until you have your hummus! The falafals are a little tricker, but absolutely worth it! You’ll need another tin of chickpeas, more crushed garlic (of course!), a big onion all chopped up, a heaped teaspoon or coriander and cumin each, two tablespoons of flour, and a Middle Eastern sized portion of salt! If you fancy, you can also put a big pile of chopped parsley in with the mixture. Whiz them all together, pat them out into little balls, and shallow fry them in olive oil.
Find some bowls for the falafals, once they’re cooked through, and an especially pretty bowl for the hummus (which will become favourite!), and add it to the table of delicacies!
Warm your pitas through, and settle down for a taste of the Middle East! How much, and in what order, the various bits go into the pita is entirely up to you, just make sure you get it all in.