“We’re trying to break down the walls between what the perception is of Middle Eastern food and what it can be here in Australia,” says Shane Delia. For more than a decade, Delia has been bringing a fresh approach to classic Middle Eastern flavours at restaurant Maha. Maha’s style buzzes with the region’s classic spices, but it’s not designed to be strictly traditional.
“What’s great about Australia is it’s a really exciting melting pot of people, skills and tradition,” Delia says. “We look at French technique, Asian technique and contemporary techniques and bring that all together with a Middle Eastern accent.”
As of 2020, though, Delia began serving up his signature dishes in a different way. Faced with restaurant-closing lockdowns, he brought his food into Melbourne homes via his platform Providoor, which has since expanded to include Sydney and now Brisbane. Rather than face the limitations of typical food delivery, Delia’s idea for Providoor was to do almost all the work in advance, sending out dishes that just need a little heating, plating and garnishing. The results are something like restaurant-quality home cooking, although there really isn’t that much cooking.
“We want to make sure the people at home feel like the rock star, like they’ve actually cooked this food when the reality is that we do all the hard work, do all the development, all the tedious stuff that sets them up for success,” says Delia.
Having already treated Sydney to a taste of Maha at Home, Delia is excited to share his food with Brisbane and beyond. “Through Providoor we can reach three quarters of the state, and Queensland’s pretty bloody big, so hopefully we can connect the whole state with some really beautiful Middle Eastern flavours and create some good memories for people at home.”
Delia recommends ordering a set menu, but Maha at Home lets diners go off-piste with broad à la carte options too. Here’s five of Delia’s go-to picks for a proper Maha-style feast:
Turkish beef dumplings
“This is something that people can’t get enough of and you’re never going to make them at home, it’s so tedious,” Delia says. Tiny dumplings are filled with beef, burnt butter and Turkish spices, then dressed with a garlic-heavy yoghurt.
“You think dumplings and yoghurt is a bit weird but after you’ve had it like this you’ll be converted,” says Delia.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder
If you’ve been to Maha, you’ll know this signature dish. “Every time I take it off the menu, people lose their fucking minds,” says Delia. “Whether it’s summer or winter, it’s an all-year-round staple.” Lamb shoulder is rubbed with Maha’s secret herbs and spices and gently roasted for 12 hours. “At home you just put it in the oven, warm it, get it crispy, take it out and finish it with a fermented capsicum butter and some smoked eggplant,” Delia says.
Chemen cured kingfish
“Chemen’s an Armenian-Turkish spice of fenugreek, paprika and turmeric,” says Delia. Kingfish is cured in the spice blend for 14 hours before being finished with a kombu and smoked pepper dressing. There’s almost no prep involved (unless you’re a Maha chef), just a shortcut to huge flavours.
“You just open the fish, toss it through the dressing and you’re laughing,” says Delia.
Spiced brisket burek buns
For this dish, Delia takes sweet-style Turkish burek dough and creates something closer to a bun than the traditional flat or cigar-shaped pastry. That bun then gets filled with a heady mix of spiced beef brisket. “The way to think about it is like a Malaysian rendang – coconut and chilli, lime and turmeric,” says Delia. “Then we wrap it in beautiful, sweet pastry and cover it in sesame seeds and it gets dipped in a harissa mayo to lift it.”
Charred baby corn
Another 10-year-old classic that can never leave the menu: here, baby corn is a vehicle for Maha’s typically powerful flavours. “We make a sherry vinegar, sweet paprika, smoked almond and lemon dressing with heaps of toum, which is like whipped garlic,” says Delia. Charred baby corn is marinated with the dressing and served simply as a perfect balance for dishes like the rich, slow-cooked lamb.
Maha at Home launches on Providoor on June 20. More info.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Providoor.