Fattoush, as its simplest, is another tomato and bread salad – a common combination around the globe. And as tomato and bread is a very very good basis for a salad; it is no wonder that it is popular. It is also a variety of chopped salad, easy to make, no fuss at all.
Mention Fattoush to anyone from the Middle East to Israel, and you are likely to find yourself in a discussion (argument?) about the composition of the salad. Is sumac essential? Should other spices be included? Is garlic necessary? Is the bread to be toasted? Or fried? What is the dressing made of? What herbs are included? How big should the pita pieces be?
It is one of THOSE salads, loved and protected by all who eat it regularly. As mentioned, it is a type of chopped salad with tomatoes and includes pita. A salad that is best when all ingredients are the freshest and best quality available.
Arab salad, chopped salad, Israeli salad – whatever you choose to call it. Wherever you go in the city, at any time of the day, a Jerusalemite is most likely to have a plate of freshly chopped vegetables – tomato, cucumber and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice – served next to whatever else they are having. Friends visiting us in London always complain of feeling they ate ‘unhealthily’ because there wasn’t a fresh salad served with every meal.
Ottolenghi and Tamimi, in their book Jerusalem, have a recipe that comes from Sami’s mother. It is also in Sami’s book Falastin. Sami can’t recall anyone else in the neighbourhood making the recipe this way She called it fattoush, as it includes chopped vegetables and bread. She soaks the untoasted or fried bread in a kind of home-made buttermilk, which makes it terribly comforting. It is a gorgeous salad and the home made buttermilk dressing is wonderful. It does make it quite different to other versions of Fattoush.
Try to get small cucumbers for this as for any other fresh salad. If you need to use the larger, long cucumbers, perhaps remove the seeds before using, if you wish.
Summer purslane, a tangy succulent with fleshy leaves and something of the lamb’s lettuce about it, is commonly found in fattoush in its homelands, and is well worth adding for its lovely lemony flavour. I have included it as we have it growing.
Continue reading “Na’ama’s Fattoush”