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The Middle East is the birthplace of the cuisine of the Western world. Thousands of years, countless empires and a global spice trade later, it comes as no surprise to find a sophisticated and delicious cuisine on offer, with myriad local variations. Alissa Kondogiannis pulls together some of her favourites, old and new, for a fresh and colourful banquet of mezze (small dishes) perfect for early summer.
Classic homemade chickpea hummus, rich with sesame tahini, topped with crispy spiced chickpeas.
Moroccan Carrot Salad
Fresh carrots elevated with complex layers of flavour from cilantro, lemon, cinnamon and harissa (a spicy North African condiment).
Served with freshly baked sesame seeded pita bread
Chunky Chicken Shwarma
Tender pieces of chicken thigh, infused with a cardamom-scented shwarma spice blend, sautéed until juicy inside and crispy and golden at the edges.
Chunks of tender roasted eggplant drizzled with a mix of tahini date syrup and silan (a Middle Easter date syrup)
Served with Jewelled Couscous, studded with with dried fruit, nuts, seeds and herbs
Nutty and addictive, these rich, chewy-crisp, sesame-sprinkled cookies are a delight!
Chicken, Vegetarian, or 1/2+1/2
Middle Eastern Dinner for 2 $48 • for 4 $90
Alissa Kondogiannis has a small business in the north of the city that mainly caters sabbath meals on Fridays. Though she was brought up Ashkenazi, she truly believes she has a Sephardic heart and it comes out in most of her cooking. Passover food is the one time where she tries to recreate the tastes of her Hungarian grandmother and makes traditional Eastern European food. In addition to Friday night meals, she also teaches challah and babka making classes. Follow her on Instagram or Facebook @barnstarkitchen.