Syria – Sham Ali’s story.
Damascus was once a popular holiday destination and tourists would come flocking in, visiting the old part of town with its beautiful old Ottoman buildings and adorned courtyards. The town would be abuzz with visitors and locals alike and that’s where Sham Ali would meet her friends, smoke shisha and drink coffee with a small sweet on the side.
“Double apple is my favourite flavoured tobacco. Always double apple, none of the fancy ones”. This was their time. They would catch up, gossip and watch the world go by as they sipped cardamom coffee. She had finished her course in interior design and was about to embark on a career. Life was good, full of promise.
But then the war started and everything changed. Everyone stayed at home because of the bombings. Things worsened and they had to flee Syria, making the hard decision to leave their home country behind and seek safety elsewhere.
The fresh zestiness of the salad is counterbalanced by the crispy fried flatbread pieces, making this the perfect rustic salad to accompany any meal or part of a spread table. While there are many variations for making this salad, each region and person adding their personal touch, the secret is having fresh herbs and ingredients and eating it as soon as it’s ready.
Serves 4 – 6 as a side dish
Crispy flatbread pieces
1 large pita bread, cut into even 2 cm squares
Vegetable oil for frying
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Juice of ½ – 1 lemon
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 small cos lettuce, leaves roughly torn
2 large tomatoes, cut into chunky pieces
2 Lebanese cucumbers, cut half lengthways then sliced
½ small red onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
Rosemary leaves from 2 sprigs, roughly chopped
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan over a medium heat. Deep fry the bread pieces until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper and set to the side.
- For a healthier alternative, preheat the oven to 180ºC, spread the bread pieces in a large oven tray and bake for 4 – 7 minutes without any oil. Mix the bread pieces half way through to ensure even baking and bake until they are a golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and transfer on a large plate to cool.
- Mix all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, pepper or lemon as needed or according to your taste.
- When ready to serve combine all the salad ingredients with the toasted bread pieces in a large serving dish and toss together well with the dressing and serve straight away.