Reem Kassis’s Shiitake Mushroom Fatteh with Walnut, Dill and Pomegranate Molasses (Dan Perez photo)

Reem Kassis’s Shiitake Mushroom Fatteh with Walnut, Dill and Pomegranate Molasses

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“Fatteh, derived from an old Arabic verb meaning ‘to break bread and steep in liquid,’ is a common dish across the Middle East,” says Reem Kassis, the award-winning Palestinian author, food writer, and advocate for the cuisine and cultural heritage of Palestine and the Arab world. “The base is bread, but the toppings vary from eggplants (aubergines) and chickpeas, to rice and a variety of meats. The sauces are just as varied with some yogurt-based, others tahini-based, and others broth- or lemon-based. Moona, a restaurant in Boston serving up creative Middle Eastern dishes based on pantry ingredients (moona means ‘pantry’ in Arabic), has a version made with mushrooms. Mushrooms have an earthy, meaty taste that is superbly complemented by the sweet tartness of pomegranate molasses, the crunchiness  of the toasted bread and nuts, and the brightness of the yogurt-tahini dressing. Just another example of how pushing boundaries can lead to delicious surprises.”

“Bread, the common thread in tharid dishes, encapsulates the essence of Arab hospitality and culinary culture. The idea of using it to bulk up a meal — a practice in many cultures that is probably rooted in scarcity — allows people to stretch valuable ingredients such as meat to feed large families and crowds, reflecting the spirit of sharing and communal dining prevalent across the Arab world.”

Kassis is a Palestinian writer whose work focuses on the intersection of food with culture, history, and politics. You can find some of her writings in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Her debut cookbook, The Palestinian Table (2017), won the Guild of Food Writers Award and Gourmand World Cookbook award, was nominated for a James Beard Award, was short-listed for the Andre Simon Award and the Edward Stanford Award, and was picked as one of NPR’s best books of 2017. Her second cookbook is The Arabesque Table (2021).

“Ideally, this dish is made with pure pomegranate molasses that does not have any added sugar. But if you are making this with a brand that happens to have sugar, leave out the honey,” she adds.

Reem Kassis

Ingredients:

2 large or 4 small thin pita breads in 3/4-inch/2 cm squares (6 oz./165 g or 2 1/2 generous cups)

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For the yogurt sauce:

1 1/3 cups yogurt

3 tablespoons tahini

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 small clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

For the mushrooms:

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large shallot, finely diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps chopped into bite-size pieces (a combination of portobello, chestnut or other varieties)

1 1 /2 tablespoons pure pomegranate molasses

2 teaspoons honey

1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

 

To serve:

1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces, coarsely chopped

Small bunch of dill fronds

Crushed chili flakes or pomegranate seeds (optional)

 

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Arrange the pita bread pieces on a baking sheet. Bake, moving the bread around from time to time, until the squares are completely dry and crisp and starting to darken in color, about 20–30 minutes. Remove and set aside. (This step can be done a couple of days in advance and the bread stored in an airtight container or a zip seal plastic food bag.)

Make the yogurt sauce:

In a bowl, stir together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Set aside.

Prepare the mushrooms:

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and fry, stirring, until translucent and starting to brown, 3–5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.

Add the remaining mushrooms and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until tender but retaining some bite, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms release some liquid that is perfectly fine, you do not need to cook until it evaporates, only until the mushrooms are tender. Pour in the pomegranate molasses and honey, give one final good stir, then add the chickpeas and cook for 1 minute to heat through. Remove from the heat.

Assemble the dish:

This dish can be served on one large platter or on individual plates. Place the bread at the bottom of the serving platter/plates. Top with the mushroom mixture. Pour the yogurt sauce on top and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and dill. If desired, sprinkle with chili flakes or pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately to retain the crunchiness of the bread.

Serves 4

 

The Arabesque Table by Reem Kassis

Much-loved author and James Beard nominee Reem Kassis presents an acclaimed and unique collection of original contemporary recipes tracing the rich history of Arab cuisine. The Arabesque Table tells of Kassis’s Palestinian family, while giving a modern twist to such dishes as fatteh, lentil soup and pistachio cake. With a personal, engaging voice, The Arabesque Table bridges past and present to open up the world of Arabic cooking today, showcasing a mosaic of 130 delicious, accessible home recipes. Organized by primary ingredient, the recipes and vivid photographs bring the dishes to life while the narrative offers not only a sense of taste, but a sense of time and place as well. More than just a compilation of modern Arabic recipes, The Arabesque Table celebrates the evolution of Arab cuisine and the stories of cross-cultural connection it recounts. Paying tribute to the history leading to this point, the book shows how cuisine, just like the arabesque patterns that inspired the title, is inherently intertwined and cross cultural, even as it remains crucial in defining the relationship between people, place and identity. To order Reem’s books, We Are Palestinian, The Arabesque Table and The Palestinian Table, go to: https://www.reemkassis.com/books

For information about Reem Kassis, go to: https://www.reemkassis.com/about
For this recipe and more, go to:

https://www.facebook.com/splendid.table/photos/a.10151157029121137/10159189242276137/?type=3&locale=ms_MY

https://www.splendidtable.org/story/2021/04/23/shiitake-mushroom-fatteh-with-walnut-dill-and-pomegranate-molasses

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel/2021/03/three-recipes-from-reem-kassiss-new-book-the-arabesque-table

https://www.177milkstreet.com/recipes/shiitake-mushroom-fatteh-reem-kassis

See:

“The Palestinian Table: Serving up Palestinian food and culture” at: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180718-the-palestinian-table-serving-up-palestinian-food-and-culture/

“Reem Kassis: How I brought my Palestinian heritage to the table” at: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2021/feb/21/reem-kassis-arabesque-table-fatteh-pistachio-cake

Also:

https://www.phaidon.com/agenda/food/articles/2018/june/19/the-palestinian-table-wins-coveted-first-book-award/

https://www.phaidon.com/agenda/food/articles/2018/january/11/stanfords-loves-the-palestinian-table/

https://www.phaidon.com/agenda/food/articles/2020/june/03/reem-kassis-lockdown-life/

https://www.latimes.com/food/newsletter/2021-05-01/reem-kassis-the-arabesque-table-tasting-notes

https://www.npr.org/2021/04/07/984991700/for-this-palestinian-cook-the-kitchen-is-a-powerful-place-not-a-life-sentence

Connect at:
https://www.reemkassis.com/

https://www.facebook.com/reemkassisofficial/

https://twitter.com/reem_kassis     

https://www.instagram.com/reem.kassis/

https://www.reemkassis.com/writing

https://www.seriouseats.com/search?q=reem+kassis

Copyright © 2021 by Reem Kassis. All Right Reserved.

 

 

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