Fattoush is an Arabic salad. Nothing is challenging in its preparation, if you can find its three trademark ingredients – Khubz (Arabic bread or pita), Sumac (a tangy spice) and Baqleh (an herb also called as Purslane/Verdolaga or Paruppu Keerai in Tamil). The rest is child’s play. It just involves flinging in all possible cut salad vegetables, toasted khubz croutons into a bowl and drizzling over a dressing to flavour them. Sounds oversimplified? Take a look at the detailed recipe and find for yourself:
- About 4 khubz. Use scissors to cut the khubz into vertical strips and then again across them horizontally, to get small rectangular pieces. Spread them on a plate and toast in a microwave oven at high power for 3 minutes. Do not forget to turn over the pieces at just about half-time of toasting (1 ½ minutes), so that they do not get burnt. The pita croutons are ready.
- One head of romaine lettuce. Wash the leaves and drain away the water. Discard the midrib of the lettuce leaves and then cut them coarsely. Tip: The salad spinner is a reliable and indispensable tool for draining away the water and is quicker than the conservative colander. Just twirl around the washed leaves in the spinner, twice or thrice till the water drains into the outer container. This helps in retaining the crispness of the leaves and prevents the salad from becoming mushy.
- About 2-3 cucumbers, skin peeled and cut.
- 2 carrots, skin peeled and cut into batons.
- 1 medium size tomato, cut.
- 1 medium size onion, chopped.
- Few sprigs of mint leaves, cleaned and chopped.
- Few sprigs of parsley, cleaned and chopped.
My search for baqleh in markets has not been fruitful till now. Consequently, my fattoush is always minus baqleh. But its absence does not affect the taste of the final product markedly.
Apple or pear, pomegranate arils, baby radish, purple cabbage, capsicum, black olives and feta cheese.
For the Dressing:
- 1-2 tbsp of sumac
- 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped and pounded to a paste
- 1/2-1 tbsp of lime juice
- A pinch of salt
Blend all of the above thoroughly well. Sumac already has a sour taste with a tinge of saltiness and faltering in the quantities of sumac, salt and lime, may even leave the entire dish unpalatable. So go over the addition of lime juice and salt gradually, stopping every now and then to check for taste.
Put all the salad vegetables in a big bowl and pour the dressing over them. Mix gently so that the dressing coats all the veggies in the bowl. Add the croutons just before serving and toss. The croutons retain the crispness for almost ½ hr after incorporating in the salad.
Serving Size: 4
Enjoy the nuances of texture offered by the veggies, greens and croutons in this delightful salad.
The cause for delight is not only its taste, but also the ease of preparation and its versatility. It does not demand the vegetables to be chopped finely as in Tabbouleh; the extensive choice of salad ingredients adds to the convenience – but the essence is to keep the list short and simple to avoid the prepreparation step from becoming time consuming and dreary; we could swap some of the main and optional ingredients to arrive at various combinations – we could play around with, add or substitute almost all ingredients except one. The presence of this signature element, the khubz croutons is vital to maintain the identity of this dish because…yes, you guessed it right…Fattoush in Arabic means crumbled bread salad.
The salad being light yet filling is suitable as a snack and supper item. What’s more! When prepared at home, it works out much cheaper than the 500 fils a plate or 1.550 dinars a kg rate of the food courts.