In Levantine Cuisine, it is very common to create layered platters. From upside-downs (Maloubeh) to Fattehs and everything in between, it seems the Levantines are all for layered flavours.
In cooking and preparing foods, layering is very similar to staging. Where each aspect of the scene has its own character and complexities. Once all the characters come together the final outcome is a medley of deeply flavoured food. Layering in that sense requires an artistic touch, and an ability to understand textures and flavours. It requires a certain imagination and creativity where you can taste the final outcome, way before you cook it. Because when you are using many ingredients, aromatics and sauces in any one dish, there is always a risk of flavours overpowering each other, or the risk of simply having too much!
Therefore, I find Fatteh to be at the top of food mastery in Levantine cuisine. If you can deliberate a platter of 3 or more layers in which at least 2 different sauces are present, while keeping the integrity of each ingredient and serving up an exquisitely delicious plate of food – that is not in anyway too much or overpowered – then you have mastered cooking! That is what cooking is all about.
There are many types of “Fatteh” in Arabic cuisine, all of which are very different and equally succulent. It is usually served as an appetisers, although it can be had as a main dish on its own. The layers usually contain a type of carbs – such as bread, rice or pasta – while it can also contain both bread and rice in the same preparation. Then comes the proteins, pulses, chicken, or meat and nuts. The 2 most commonly used sauces in this preparation are tomato sauce, and a garlic infused yoghurt sauce. However other sauces can be used, such as the Tahini Sauce on this link. Some Fattehs rely on the use of vegetables for their flavour, such as Fattet Makdoos (eggplants) & Fattet Hummus (chickpeas)…
Here is one Fatteh dish from the Classic Palestinian Cuisine, that looks appetising, tastes Divine and is very nutritious. When you make Fattet Djaj, you can rest assured that the whole family will enjoy it. The best thing of all is that this Fatteh is one of the best ways to use leftover roast chicken! What more can any one expect? Give it a try, you will be happy you did.