Recipe | Haitham El-Khatib · Curator | Hakan Burcuoğlu · Venue | Aleph Eatery · Gear | Leica
Haitham El-Khatib, helmer of Vancouver’s magnanimous Middle Eastern fixture—Aleph—is a perennial optimist with a penchant for epicurean confluence. Investing years of bonafide brain & brawn into a beguiling concept that’s neither stuffy, nor superfluous, Haitham, and his soft-spoken, ebullient wife Fiona, have persevered in conjuring up a warm-and-fuzzy concept that’s curiously convivial, unapologetically vegetarian, and cosmic-climax guaranteed.
Their boutique concept which moonlights as the perfect gateway to Middle Eastern food and hospitality is deserved of any paean. So no wonder we’ve joined forces, to bring to you voracious Vancouverites an unparalleled feast that celebrates the Levant, and all things summer—Levantine Lullaby.
Headlining Levantine Lullaby is Haitham’s Fatteh & Fasenjan—a sultry concoction disguised as a majestic mash-up, bringing into one bowl the best of both worlds—in this instance, Palestine and Iran. Having grown up devouring both dishes as a toddler, naturally, Haitham’s found solace, and his deliverance, in the act of conjoining the two. It’s silky, spicy, and crunchy as fuck. So buy your tickets to our upcoming feast, double-down, and get F’ed up.
Fatteh (Palestinian Chickpea & Crispy Bread Cold Casserole)
1 cup chickpeas (canned or cooked), drained and rinsed
1 saj/pita/flat bread, cut into wedges
1 cup plain yogurt
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
⅓ cup pine nuts & sliced almonds
1 tsp cumin
Zaatar, to taste
Salt, to taste
Fasenjan (Persian Walnut & Pomegranate) Stew
2 cups walnut halves (can use more if you like)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ cup pomegranate molasses
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground if possible
a glug of extra virgin olive oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Method [Serves 2-3]
1. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
2. Lay the bread wedges on a baking sheet, and toss with olive oil. Season with zaatar and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. [Alternately, you may fry the pita bread in olive oil in a saucepan, Palestinian-Style] Taste!
3. Put the chickpeas in a small pot along with ½ cup water and simmer over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, until the water is mostly absorbed, and the chickpeas are heated through. Remove from heat, strain and season with salt and cumin. The chickpeas should taste of salt and cumin.
4. Mix the yogurt, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, tahini paste, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. If the consistency is too thick, add a little water to thin it out, or until the desired consistency is reached.
5. Fry the pine nuts and almonds in olive oil, in a small saucepan, until golden.
6. For the fesenjan stew, toast the walnuts, either on a baking sheet in the oven, or in a shallow pan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant.
8. Once the walnuts have cooled down, pulse in food processor until broken up, similar to the consistency of hemp hearts.
9. Heat the olive oil in a large pot, add the onions, and gently stir until translucent. Add the spices and cook for a few minutes longer. The smell of turmeric and cinnamon should take over your kitchen. Season with salt.
10. Add the stock, and bring mixture to a boil.
11. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, and add the pomegranate molasses and ground walnuts. Simmer for 15-25 minutes, until sauce becomes thick in consistency. Add more stock, or water, if needed. Adjust spices to taste.
1. Break up the toasted bread wedges and arrange them in an even layer on the bottom of a deep serving platter, bowl, or casserole dish.
2. Top with warm Fesenjan stew.
3. Spoon over stew with the warm chickpeas, followed by the yogurt & tahini sauce. Sprinkle with toasted nuts, finely chopped parsley or cilantro, pomegranates & olive oil and serve with additional bread chips.
4. Get doubly F’ed up with this Double-F Mash-Up.