Lebanese at Zaytoon’s

There is a little strip just around the corner from our house, less than a ten minute walk infact, where there are a handful of restaurants and bars. This cluster is home to two of our favourite bars in Chorlton as well as our faithful Yakisoba, always a reliable fallback when we don’t want to/don’t have time to cook.

There are a few other restaurants here that we have been meaning to try for a while and so on Friday night finally got round to visiting the rustic little Lebanese place, called Zaytoon. The place was busier than we have seen it before and we luckily arrived in time to secure the last free table. The owner came over within a few minutes of us sitting down to welcome us and explain the menu which was lovely. This is a small family run establishment with just a handful of tables and shelves down one side of the room stacked with all sorts of knick knacks, it sort of lent the feeling that you were sat in someone’s living room, which I thought was quite a nice touch!

We ordered a beer each and began to peruse the menu, aside from the fact I could see Barlow Moor Road out the window and the icy wind that was whistling around outside, I began to feel  a little like I was on holiday!

photo 1

For starters we shared some moutabel – a smoky aubergine dip similar to baba ganoush with toasted pitta breads, and some absolutely delicious falafel which came with tahini and a tasty spicy little salad. I am a big fan of falafel but do often find them to be disappointing – either too dry, too heavy or just plain soggy. These little beauties however were absolutely perfect in both texture and flavour, delicious!

photo 2 photo 3

The menu is quite small, which tends to go down well with me, a few expertly cooked dishes are much better than a large menu of dishes that are just cooked averagely. The owner also reeled off lots of tempting sounding specials however, including lots of fish and lamb dishes, some specifically for two or more people. We decided to order off the menu this first time however, although next time we visit (and there will definitely be a next time!) I think we will sample some of the specials.

Rob ordered a chicken shish kebab while I went for the chicken shawarma, both were served with plenty of hummous, more pitta breads and a lovely big helping of salad. The salad, which had a special name but unfortunately I can’t remember it, was liberally sprinkled with sumac. Sumac has quite a tart, lemony flavour, and it worked really well on top of the salad. I love lemony citrusy flavours anyway (zingy!) so this was a big hit with me, I have already been out to buy some as I think it will be a good way to get Rob to eat more salads!

The chicken kebab was incredibly juicy and moist with a lovely subtle garclicy flavour while the flavouring of the shawarma was a little more robust. Both were very tasty and it just felt nice to eat a nice healthy meal of grilled meat with lots of salad, bursting with flavour. I was impressed with how the sumac helped lift even the most tired bits of iceberg lettuce!

photo 4photo 5

The menu listed baklava as the only desert, although when you can eat baklava, you don’t need anything else in my opinion! We were trying to be good however so decided to sample this another time! And we definitely will be back to try out some more of these lovely simple homecooked Lebanese dishes, as we assured the owner on our way out the door! It is well worth a visit!

Advertisements

Turkish Night!

As some of you may know, following a trip to the spellbinding Istanbul last summer, I have recently been captivated by all things Turkish, not least, the food! Therefore I was most pleased to unwrap a Turkish cookbook from under the twinkling tree on Christmas morning!

It took me less than a week to find the chance to try out some recipes on the family! I decided to keep things simple, particularly as I wasn’t in my own kitchen, and start with some fairly basic but very tasty meze dishes! Apparently, the Turkish word meze translates literally as ‘a pleasant taste’.

I picked out the following meze recipes to try; Anadolu Palitcan (baked aubergines with mint yoghurt; I love aubergines and quickly learnt to pick anything out with patlican in the name on menus while in Istanbul!), Aci domates ezmsi (chilli tomato paste) and Cacik (cucmber and mint yoghurt dip). These were to be served as a first course with my yoghurty prawns on toast (not exactly fitting with the Turkish theme, but a request had been put in and who am I to say no! Although they do at least come with yoghurt!)

For the Anadolu Patlican

Serves 4

  • 4 small aubergines (not always easy to get in this country, otherwise 2 of the larger variety will do)
  • 4 tablespoons thick yoghurt (I used a bit of a mix of natural yoghurt and Greek yoghurt, you could of course try making your own! – I’ve earmarked this as a future project..)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste with sea salt
  • bunch of fresh mint, chopped
  • salt and black pepper to season

Bake the aubergines at 200 degrees. After 15 minutes, take them out the oven and slit them lengthways into halves. Put them back in the oven for another 25-30 minutes, maybe a little longer if using larger aubergines. They are ready when the flesh is mashable into a pulp.

Meanwhile, mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic, lemon juice and mint, and season to taste. When the aubergines are ready, mash the flesh into a sort of dip-like consistenmcy and spoon the cool minty yoghurt on top, serve straight away.

For the Aci domates ezmesi

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato puree
  • Large handful of freshly chopped ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 hot green chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • The juice and rind of half a lemon
  • Bunch of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to season

Mix the tomato puree with the olive oil until smooth. Add the tomatoes, onion, chilli, garlic, lemon juice and rind, most of the parsley and salt and pepper. We then blitzed the mixture with the mortar and pestle to get a slightly smoother finish. When ready to serve, top with the remaining chopped parsley. This was our favourite, it’s really simple to make yet produces such a punch of flavour, it really smacks you in the face with delicious spicy tomatoy earthiness. I made this around an hour and a half ahead of eating and found the flavours developed really well so it’s a great one to prepare in advance!

P1040180

For the Cacik

Serves 4 very generously, we had plenty left over for lunchtime dipping the next day!

  • 1 cucumber,very finely chopped
  • Around 1/2 pint natural yoghurt
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed with sea salt
  • Bunch of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop the cucumber then lay out on a plate and salt well, leave for 5 minutes then rinse (this helps drain excess water from the cucumber). Crush the garlic with the salt then beat into the yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper then add the chopped mint and rinsed cucumber. Mmm perfect tasty moreish cooling minty cucumbery yoghurty goodness! This actually was the perfect partner to the punchy, earthy spicy tomatoeyness of the aci domates ezmesi.

P1040182

We served these with warm just-out-the-grill toasted pitta strips – perfect for dipping!

A delicious and healthy feast 🙂

P1040188

For the main course, I revisited my take on the Turkish Kebab

IMG_3213

Continuing to be inspired by all things Turkish, we drew on the pomegranate to give our prossecco a little Turkish flavour that evening! Perfectly pearly jewels of sweet juicy crunch bobbing along on the gently fizzing bubbles, cheers!

prossecco


Chorlton’s Turkish Delight

Having developed a bit of an obsession with Turkish food since our trip to Istanbul in June, we decided to head to the Turkish restaurant in Chorlton, Turkish Delight. We’d actually been meaning to go here for a while, since before our trip, but had never quite got round to it. The problem with living in Chorlton is there are just so many yummy places to go and eat, we’re spoilt for choice on our doorstep!

My friend from work, who has previously lived in Turkey, and who taught me some little snippets of Turkish before our holiday, as well giving me a list of all her favourite things to eat to take with me, suggested we go here for a meal with her Turkish husband. It sounded like a good plan to me!

The restaurant has a takeaway on the front straight off the pavement and it had actually taken me a while to realise there was a restaurant there too. We sat down at our table and the waitress and our friends soon started chatting away in Turkish, a more authentic experience then! 🙂 I was pleased to discover we could order Efes beer!

We chose the mixed meze to share for starters. This consisted of little pots of hummus, ispanak tarator (spinach, yoghurt and garlic, this was my favourite!), taramasalata and havuc tarator (carrots, yoghurt and garlic) to scoop up and devour with slivers of warm pitta bread. We were also treated to glistening black olives, a salad with tabule, delicious green beans in a tomtoey sauce and some other beans (sort of like cannellini beans? I’m not sure what they were) also in a tasty tomato sauce. There were also cheese borek and some tasty little meatballs.


Faced with the menu of many delights, we also couldn’t help but order the iman baylidi, which I was very happy about as I adore aubergiene – people in this country really don’t appreciate or eat it enough!! Our Turkish friends also insisted we must order the sucuk – spicy Turkish sausage. This was also delicious! We remembered we sometimes had it on our Turkish breakfast on our lovely hotel rooftop in Istanbul…surrounded by fragrant flowers and overlooking the bosphrous… sigh….

Then it was onto the main courses. We both ordered the Iskender kebab – described as a special selection of charcoal grilled meats served on pitta bread with tomato sauce and yoghurt. When it arrived it looked very different to the kebabs we had become accustomed to in Istanbul! I missed the big puffed up naan-like breads we had with our kebabs there, and also would have liked a little more of the chargrilled tomatoes and peppers we got there – I must confess to having gotten a little meated-out with the below plate of food! The other thing that was different was there was none of the tasty bulgur wheat we had also got used to. I’m not sure where the tomato sauce went. The meat itself had a lovely chargrilled flavour however. I wonder if perhaps they are catering for the English market and perceive that the Brits are only really interested in the meat?! Our all time favourite kebab is still from the tiny street side joint, Aya Sofya Kebap on Küçük Aya Sofya Sokak in Istanbul, just round the corner from our hotel. Our kebabs from there feature in this post. If you ever find yourself in Istanbul, I highly recommend!!

My friend ordered the Adana kebab.

We were all very full after our Turkish feast, but I was not to be defeated, desserts were to be squuueeeezed in! We ordered kadayif – pistachios encased in shreds of pastry, and walnut baklava. Sticky, sweet and immensely satisfying!