Fatteh with Hummus
In the Levant, fatteh refers to the type of casseroles that involve layered, torn-up flatbread (fatteh comes from the Arabic word for “torn bread”). Mayada’s version with hummus and yogurt is a filling, comforting dish that’s certainly rich but also easy on the stomach—perfect for breaking the fast during Ramadan. Fried pieces of pita are soaked in a mixture of spiced hummus and yogurt that’s studded with whole chickpeas. The game-changing touch is the sizzling-hot topping of ghee and garlic—don’t skip this step. Though her kids prefer the dish without it, another traditional addition is a final sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.
SERVES 6 TO 8
- 1⁄2 pound dried chickpeas (1 cup), soaked overnight and drained
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 large pita, split and torn into 2-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)
- 1⁄2 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- Cayenne pepper, for serving
- 1⁄3 cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
- Place the chickpeas in a large pot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Stir in the baking soda. Bring to a boil on high, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook until soft and cooked through; depending on how old the chickpeas are, this can take between 30 minutes and 2 hours. If the water gets low, add more to cover the chickpeas by 2 inches. Turn off the heat and let the chickpeas cool in the cooking liquid.
- Line a large plate with paper towels. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot on medium-high until hot. Add the pita and fry for 2 to 3 minutes total, flipping once, until deep golden brown on both sides. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.
- Drain the chickpeas and reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking liquid. Working in batches if necessary, combine 2 1⁄2 cups of the chickpeas, 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid, the yogurt, salt, cumin, lemon juice, and tahini in a blender. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
- Add 1⁄4 cup of the remaining chickpeas. Stir in a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid to achieve the consistency of thick pancake batter.
- Spread the pita chips in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or rimmed serving platter. Drizzle with 1⁄2 cup of the cooking liquid. Pour the chickpea-yogurt mixture over the chips. Top with the remaining whole chickpeas. (Mayada likes to place them in small decorative piles.)
- Place the ghee and garlic in a small pot. Cook on medium- high until the ghee has melted and the garlic just begins to brown, then pour over the fatteh. Sprinkle lightly with cayenne to taste, followed by the toasted pine nuts (if using). Serve immediately or keep warm until serving.
“This beautiful book testifies to the power of food to heal and connect. By cooking for others, Mayada keeps her family traditions intact; by sharing her recipes and stories, she communicates the centrality of food in Syrian culture. The Bread and Salt Between Us is both a delicious introduction to Syrian food and a moving portrait of resilience. It belongs in every library and kitchen.”
— Darra Goldstein, founding editor of Gastronomica