There are several odd eateries in my home town - like the cafe at the bottom of the main street run by a cult known as the 12 tribes. It wouldn't look out of place in middle earth and you can eat your lunch in a tree. There is also the old Avalon inside the art deco theatre where the menu remains unchanged for fifty years and cocktail hour strongly resembles evening drinks on the titanic (sans iceberg and tragedy). There is the "unique" patisserie which serves as a front for a no frills restaurant housing some of the most exquisite Malay food I have ever eaten and mind blowing vegetable carvings (think a intricately carved koi fish encircling a pagoda - carved from a carrot).
Then there is Cedars, our local kebab shop. Its narrow and grubby and a little run down. You can maybe fit three people in the space comfortably. The kebabs are surprisingly delicious but it is the traditional Lebanese dishes that brings me back again and again. Real deal mama's cooking. Piping hot lamb kibbeh, big tubs of homemade hummus and baba ghanouj, chickpeas and okra in a spicy tomato sauce. All of it delicious and lovely but my favourite above all these was their fried cauliflower in tahini.
When I left home I would get deep cravings for this cauliflower dish. A great many cauliflowers were consumed trying to replicate it. The end result is pretty close. And delicious.
Tahini is such a strange thing to cook with. Unctuous, earthy yet creamy and smooth. I used to be afraid of using it - the flavour is so distinct that adding too much can over power and destroy your recipe. I am loving how it is being incorporated more and more into recipes now (particularly those of the sweet variety).
FRIED CAULIFLOWER IN TAHINI
- 1 Kilo Cauliflower, split into small florets
- Oil for shallow frying
- pinch of paprika
- 6 Spring onions, sliced
- 150g tahini paste
- 150g greek yohurt
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Small bunch flat leaf parsley
- Tablespoon chopped mint
- juice of a lemon
- large pinch of salt and pepper
- 3/4 Cup water
- In a large saucepan por enough oil for 1-2 cm deep. Heat until hot and fry the florets a handful at a time. Cook for several minutes, turning so they brown evenly. When golden brown, transfer to a colander, sprinkle with a little salt and paprika. Leave to drain. Repeat with remaining cauliflower. Fry half the spring onions.
- In a small bowl mix the tahini, garlic, herbs, yoghurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper until well combined. It will go quite thick. Gradually add the water, stirring as you go. Add enough water to make the sauce a smooth pourable consistency (not too thin!).
- Place the florets and onions in a serving bowl and pour over the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
- Garnish with parsley and enjoy.