Fadi Kattan’s Fatteh Ghazawiya الفتة الغزاوية

25 July, 2021
Vintage photo of the Djeghalian family eating fatteh in Gaza, a typical dish eaten throughout the Arab world with ingredients vary regionally (photo Kegham Djeghalian, far right).
Vin­tage pho­to of the Djeghalian fam­i­ly eat­ing fat­teh in Gaza, a typ­i­cal dish eat­en through­out the Arab world with ingre­di­ents vary region­al­ly (pho­to Kegham Djeghalian, far right).

 

Fadi Kattan

Food mem­o­ries are a tricky thing! It has been so long that I have not been to Gaza yet I still have won­der­ful mem­o­ries of the Gaza fat­teh pre­pared by the late Im Khad­er, my uncle’s moth­er-in-law. In my child­hood mem­o­ries she was quite pos­si­bly the best cook in Gaza — an impres­sive woman who pre­pared deli­cious feasts, had the best shat­ta recipe ever and was also known for her cel­e­brat­ed lamb meat.

For non-Arabs unfa­mil­iar with tra­di­tion­al fat­teh, it’s a pop­u­lar dish of toast­ed and often crum­bled pita cov­ered in diverse top­pings, depend­ing on whether pre­pared in Pales­tine, Lebanon, Egypt, Jor­dan or Syr­ia. Some­times it’s sim­ply pita cov­ered with chick­peas and yoghurt in the veg­e­tar­i­an ver­sion, but there are also vari­eties made with chick­en, lamb or beef.

When I delve into my food mem­o­ries around the Gaza fat­teh, I still feel the com­bi­na­tion of that first mouth­ful of rice, bread, meat, very deep, intense, earthy and the refresh­ing piquante of the dug­ga (or dukkah, sim­i­lar to zaatar albeit made with nuts and spices rather than sesame seeds).

Fatteh Ghazawiya (photo courtesy Gaeaspan).
Fat­teh Ghaz­a­wiya (pho­to cour­tesy Gaea­s­pan).

There was always the Gaza dug­ga but also, always at my aunt’s house, a few green chilies on the lunch table. The Gaza cui­sine is very dif­fer­ent from the Beth­le­hem cui­sine, bring­ing with it that marine air, that spici­ness of the chilies and the long meals on the coast always round­ed off with an unc­tu­ous mouha­l­abiya served with date jam.

Those mem­o­ries of more than thir­ty years ago seem so unre­al today.

Fatteh Ghazawiya, serves 8:

Meat and BROTH

8 pieces of lamb meat with bone (each 250 grm)
10 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, quartered
4 gar­lic cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp black peppercorns
10 car­damom pods
2 cin­na­mon sticks
1.5 tsp all­spice berries
3 tsp salt

RICE & BREAD

2 1/2 cups short grain rice
2 cups water
1 cup strained broth
2 tbsp ghee
3 shrak bread or rkak

DUGGA

2 gar­lic cloves
6 fresh red chillies
5 tsp lemon 

GARNISH

1 cup almonds
2 tbsp pine nuts 

METHOD 

For the Meat and Broth

1.     In a large pot, heat the olive oil, slight­ly cook the gar­lic and onions and then brown the meat.
2.     Add the spices and toss the meat well.
3.     Add all the spices, cov­er with the water and bring to a boil.
4.     Reduce heat, cov­er and let cook for an hour and the half.
5.     When ready, taste the broth and add salt to your liking.
6.     Strain the broth to use both for cook­ing the rice and for serving.

FOR THE RICE

1.     Soak the rice for 30 minutes.
2.     In a pot, melt the ghee, then add the rice, and stir for a minute or two.
3.     Add the water and strained broth.
4.     Once the liq­uid boils, reduce the heat to low, cov­er and let cook until the liq­uid is absorbed.
5.     Fluff the rice grains with a fork and reserve on the side.

FOR THE NUTS

1.     In a pan, fry the almonds and then the pine nuts separately.
2.     Leave each one to release the excess oil on kitchen paper.

FOR THE DUGGA

1.     Peel the gar­lic and chop off the heads of the chilies.
2.     In a mor­tar and pes­tle, pound the gar­lic and chilies with a pinch of salt until you have a rough paste.
3.     Add the lemon juice and rec­ti­fy the salt to taste.

Serv­ing

1.     Pre-heat your oven to 180 C (350 F)
2.     Tear the bread into large pieces and toast in the oven for a few minutes.
3.     In a large serv­ing plate, arrange the bread, soak with the broth until the bread has absorbed the broth.
4.     Add the lay­er of rice over the bread.
5.     Arrange the meat pieces over the rice.
6.     Gar­nish with the almonds and pine nuts.
7.     Serve the dug­ga on the side for peo­ple to sprin­kle to their liking.


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Arabic cookingduggadukkahGazaPalestinian cuisinezaatar

Franco-Palestinian chef and hotelier Fadi Kattan has become the voice of modern Palestinian cuisine. Hailing from a Bethlehemite family that has on the maternal side cultivated a francophone culture and on the paternal side, a British culture with passages in India, Japan and the Sudan, Fadi’s cuisine and savoir-faire combine worldly influences, a desire for perfection and a passion for the local terroir.