One of the restaurants I miss most in Sydney is Fatimas Lebanese restaurant on Cleveland Street, Surry Hills. A dark and narrow little place in need of some fresh paint, Fatimas is the spot to head at 3am for some late night nourishment. Actually, head there any time of day for fresh and delicious BBQ'd chicken skewers or lamb koftas. But what makes this place special is not just the succulent meats but the heavenly garlic sauce. It is simply spectacular and I think about it often! I don't know what they put in it as I have tried to replicate the secret recipe to no avail.
Fatimas also makes the best falafels in town - plump, golden and garlickly, served with a side of pickled jalapenos and radishes.
So that leads me to Thursday night's dinner...Chicken and Lamb Souvlaki skewers served with my version of the garlic sauce, Tabouleh and flat bread. Yes, there was some greek in there with the Souvlaki and that is because this time I actually cheated and bought the skewers from my local butcher as I didn't have time to marinate the meats. I buy my whole wheat flat bread from a fantastic Iranian shop near my apartment. The bread costs a mere 59c!
There is just one more thing before the recipe...you might smell a bit garlicky for a little while. Not too long..really, just a few days.
Chicken Shish Tahouk
4 chicken breasts
6 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
wooden skewers soaked in cold water to prevent burning
- Cut the chicken into thin strips. Add chicken to a large non-reactive bowl along with the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cinnamon and sea salt. Mix well to coat the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Meanwhile, prepare the garlic sauce and Tabouleh.
- Next, skewer the chicken pieces.
- Heat up the barbecue or a hot skillet and brush with a little olive oil. Cook chicken, until done, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve with garlic sauce and tabouleh.
Lebanese Garlic Sauce
2 garlic bulbs
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
- Peel the garlic and place cloves in a blender. Add the lemon juice and start to blend. You may from time to time have stop and push the garlic down with a spoon if it sticks to the side. Add the salt and continue to blend.
- Add the olive oil in a slow stream while continuing to blend.The sauce should have the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Cover and refrigerate sauce until serving time.
Incidentally, I just found a recipe that includes mashed potatoes in the garlic sauce. The potatoes are meant to cut down the garlickiness…perhaps this is Fatima ’s secret? I will test this new one soon.
2 bunches of parsley
2 tbs mint
1/2 cup Spanish onion
2 vine ripened tomatoes
1/2 cup bulghar wheat
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
Juice from 1 lemon
1 cup boiling water
- Place bulghar wheat in a bowl with the boiling water. Cover and let it stand for 20 minutes. Strain the bulghar wheat to drain off any excess water. Set aside.
- Finely chop the parsley and mint. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- De-seed the tomatoes and then dice them. Dice the Spanish onion. Place tomato and onion in the mixing bowl with the parsley and mint.
- Add the cooled bulghar wheat to the parsley mixture. Add the lemon juice, remaining salt and olive oil. Mix thoroughly with a fork to combine ingredients.
- Cover and refrigerate until serving.