Fatteh, a dish that combines pieces of pita bread with tahini and yogurt, is usually eaten for breakfast. There are several versions of the dish — both within Syria and in neighboring countries. Some versions include ground chickpeas or cooked fava beans, while others call for meat. This recipe is favored by Syrian-Druze chef Safaa Ibrahim and brings together chicken, warm chickpeas, and a tart tahini- yogurt sauce.
The chicken can be substituted with ground chickpeas, says Safaa, but it is vital to prepare the tahini with yogurt (and not water and lemon). Some cooks like to fry pine nuts and almonds in clarified butter and then pour everything over the fatteh, but Safaa believes this makes the dish too heavy. Alternatively, drizzle a little olive oil atop the fatteh just before serving.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (‘Hadas’ or other Middle Eastern variety) or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- Neutral oil, for deep frying
- 2 pitas, cut into 1-in / 2 cm squares
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound / 500 grams chicken breast, diced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon baharat spice mix
- ½ tablespoon sumac
- 1 cup / 240ml raw tahini
- ¼ cup / 60 ml water
- 1½ lemons, freshly juiced
- 2 cups / 480 ml yogurt (cow or sheep’s milk)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- To serve:
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- ½ cup pine nuts, toasted
½ cup chopped parsley
- Place the chickpeas in a bowl, cover with plenty of water and soak overnight (8-12 hours), changing the water once or twice, if possible.
- The following day, drain the chickpeas, rinse well, and transfer to a large pot. Add plenty of water to cover with at least 2 inches / 5 cm above the chickpeas. Place over a high heat and bring to a boil. Skim the foam using a spoon, reduce to a low heat and simmer gently 1-1½ hours, until soft (this depends on the chickpeas’ freshness). Remove from the heat, reserve ½ cup of the cooking water, drain, and set aside.
- Heat oil for deep frying in a deep pan over a medium-high heat. Fry the pita pieces for just a few moments, until they are golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. If you prefer to avoid deep frying, toss the pita pieces with a little olive oil and toast in an oven preheated to 400°F / 200°C for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the diced chicken and fry, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Just before the meat is cooked through, but is still juicy, season with baharat, salt, ground black pepper, and sumac. Set aside.
- Combine the raw tahini, water, yogurt, juice from 1 lemon and salt into a thick sauce that’s still runny enough to drizzle.
- Warm up the cooked chickpeas and the ½ cup of reserved cooking water in a small pot over a low heat. Season with cumin and the remaining lemon juice.
- To assemble the dish: arrange two thirds of the fried pita pieces in a large deep serving platter (preferably transparent, so that the layers are visible) in a single layer, and pour some of the warm chickpea cooking water to slightly soften them. Sprinkle the fried chicken cubes on top in an even layer and drizzle half of the tahini-yogurt sauce. Next, arrange the cooked chickpeas in an even layer followed by the remaining fried pita pieces. Drizzle the remaining tahini-yogurt sauce on top and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley (you can also add pomegranate seeds and toasted almond slivers). Serve immediately.