Fatteh, derived from an old Arabic verb meaning “to break bread and steep in liquid,” is a common dish across the Middle East. The base is bread, but the toppings vary from eggplants (aubergines) and chickpeas, to rice and a variety of meats. The sauces are just as varied with some yogurt-based, others tahini-based, and others broth- or lemon-based. Moona, a restaurant in Boston serving up creative Middle Eastern dishes based on pantry ingredients (moona means “pantry” in Arabic), has a version made with mushrooms. The first time I tried the dish, I was skeptical. “Mushrooms?!” I thought. But I was blown away by the flavors and textures. Mushrooms have an earthy, meaty taste that is superbly complemented by the sweet tartness of pomegranate molasses, the crunchiness of the toasted bread and nuts, and the brightness of the yogurt-tahini dressing. Just another example of how pushing boundaries can lead to delicious surprises.
2 large or 4 small thin pita breads in ¾-inch/2 cm squares (6 oz/165 g or 2 ½ generous cups)
For the yogurt sauce:
1 ⅓ cups (10½ oz/300 g) yogurt
3 tablespoons tahini
2–3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
½ teaspoon salt
For the mushrooms:
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) olive oil
Generous 2 tablespoons (35 g) unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons salt
10 ½ oz (300 g) shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps chopped into bite-size pieces
1 ½ lb (700 g) mushrooms (a combination of portobello, cremini/chestnut, or any variety), chopped into bite-size pieces
1 ½ tablespoons pure pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons honey (see Note)
1 can (14 oz/400 g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup (50 g) coarsely chopped
toasted walnut pieces
Small bunch of dill fronds
Crushed chili flakes or
pomegranate seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Arrange the pita bread pieces on a baking sheet. Bake, moving the bread around from time to time, until the squares are completely dry and crisp and starting to darken in color, 20–30 minutes. Remove and set aside. (This step can be done a couple of days in advance and the bread stored in an airtight container or a zipseal plastic food bag.)
Make the yogurt sauce:
In a bowl, stir together the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. Set aside.
Prepare the mushrooms:
In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and fry, stirring, until translucent and starting to brown, 3–5 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 teaspoon of the salt and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining mushrooms and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until tender but retaining some bite, about 5 minutes. If the mushrooms release some liquid that is perfectly fine, you do not need to cook until it evaporates, only until the mushrooms are tender. Pour in the pomegranate molasses and honey, give one final good stir, then add the chickpeas and cook for 1 minute to heat through. Remove from the heat.
Assemble the dish:
This dish can be served on one large platter or on individual plates. Place the bread at the bottom of the serving platter/plates. Top with the mushroom mixture. Pour the yogurt sauce on top and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts and dill. If desired, sprinkle with chili flakes or pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately to retain the crunchiness of the bread.
Note: Ideally, this is made with pure pomegranate molasses that does not have any added sugar. But if you are making this with a brand that happens to have sugar, leave out the honey.
Adapted from THE ARABESQUE TABLE by Reem Kassis. Copyright 2021, Phaidon.
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