Fattah is a mixture of meat cubes embedded in rice and crusted pita pieces in soup. It is a traditional meal that is enjoyed by all Egyptian and is considered the most famous dish in Egypt. It is served in the bairam feast (an Islamic holy feast after the month of Ramadan) but it can also be served at any time of the year.
* One kg of meat cut in cubes. One may use any type of meat but lamb if preferred.
* Two cups of short rice.
* 2-3 loafs of pita bread
* two small peeled onions
* dash of pepper
* tomato paste
To prepare a perfect dish of Fattah you need to follow four steps.
Preparing the meat
Fill a pot with water and place two small peeled onions, pepper, mastic and a cardamom. When the water starts to boil drop in the pieces of meat and let them boil to a stew.
Preparing the rice
Wash the rice and let it sit in water for about 10 minutes then seive it well. Place two tablespoons of oil in a pot on medium heat. As soon as the oil starts to fry add the rice and half a tea spoon of salt. Stir the rice for 5 minutes. Add 2 glasses of the meat stew to the cooking rice. Let the rice cook (for 20 minutes) on the lowest heat until it absorbs all the stew and becomes tender. When the rice is all dried up remove it from the stove.
Preparing the crisp pita bread
Cut the pita bread into small squared pieces, then place those pieces into a pan. Apply oil or butter to the bread pieces. Place the pan filled with bread pieces in a preheated oven for ten or so minutes until it becomes golden and crisp.
With the above three steps finished you have to place the ingredients in a deep bowl in layers before you can proceed on to the fourth step. Do not forget to pour some of the meat stew on each layer after placing it in the deep bowl. Make the lowest layer from bread top it with a thin layer of rice and pour some stew. Add the meat layer and pour some more stew on it. Place the final layer of rice and do not pour soup on the top layer of rice so that it does not turn soggy.
Preparing the dressing
Now that you have placed the meat, the bread and the rice in layers in a deep bowl, you are ready for the final and most important step in making the Fattah dish. The dressing gives the secret taste to the whole dish. So you have to be extra careful when you prepare it.
In a frying pan place one tablespoon of crushed garlic, one table spoon of ghee, half a teaspoon of cumin and 14 teaspoon of salt. Dissolve one tablespoon of tomato paste in two tablespoons of water in a cup. In a frying pan, use low heat and stir the garlic, ghee, cumin and salt until the mixture darkens. Then add to the darkened mixture the tomato paste you prepared. Stir the mixture for a minute then add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Leave the mixture on low flame for 4-5 minutes. Pour the dressing on top of the Fattah.
“Bel hana wesh shefa” (eat and be happy with good health).