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Our fattah recipe is a modern Egyptian version of a dish that goes back to antiquity. We slow cook the lamb or beef, then use the hot meat broth to cook our rice, infusing the rice with meaty flavor, along with aromatic cardamom and bay. Fried pita pieces go next, making them crispy and golden. Last is the tangy and savory tomato sauce (also made using our meat broth), then soaked up with the freshly fried bread. All are strategically layered for aesthetics and appropriate flavor sharing.
Traditionally, we would use baladi bread (Egyptian flat bread), fried and crispy. Because baladi is not available everywhere, this recipe calls for pita. The pita, we’ve used as tasty little sponges, soaking up all of the meaty tomato sauce. We think you’re going to love this dish as much as families in Egypt do. Try it and share your opinions with us.
Rinse the beef or lamb and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces.
Into a large pot, combine the following:
beef or lamb chunks
green cardamom pod
6 cups water (or enough to fully cover meat)
Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to low. Simmer over low heat until the beef is very tender (about 1 hour). Strain the meat, reserving the broth for later and discarding the cardamom and bay. Divide broth into 2 halves for use in the rice and sauce separately.
Carefully open the pita and cut it into 1 inch bite sized pieces.
Heat the oil or ghee in a skillet. Fry the pita pieces in the heated oil until crispy and golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried bread and set your pieces aside on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
Using the palm of your hand, press down on the garlic cloves to crack the skin, and then peel the skin off and discard.
Mince the garlic.
Dice the onion.
Using a food processor, blend the tomatoes just until them form a chunky sauce.
Into the same skillet you used to fry the pita, add the onion. Sauté the onion until it begins to soften and turn transparent (about 5 – 7 minutes). Add the garlic and continue sautéing until aromatic (about 1 minute).
Then add the following:
broth (1/2 water from cooking meat)
Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat, add fried bread, and stir to fully coat bread. Let the skillet sit aside until liquid has been absorbed into the bread.
In a separate pot, combine the following:
broth water (remaining 1/2 water from cooking meat)
butter or ghee
Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to low. Cover and simmer on low for about 25 minutes (or until water is absorbed and rice is tender). Remove from heat.
Place a layer of bread on a serving plate.
Mound the rice on top of the bread.
Top everything with meat chunks.
If there is any tomato sauce left after the bread has absorbed the sauce liquid, it can be spooned over the top. A tasty addition to this meal is yogurt, ladled on top or served on the side. You might also try serving with a bit of tahini sauce or haydari drizzled over the top for another mixed cuisine delight.