I’ve always called this dish “chickpea bake”, although it’s similar to fatteh, which is made in cuisines spanning the Arab and Middle Eastern worlds. Some people make fatteh with lamb and beef instead of chickpeas, some people make it with just chickpeas, some people don’t use any nuts, some people do. Fatteh just means bread soaked in juices and I do the contrary – I don’t soak the bread at all. I keep the flatbread crisp.
I make this dish in a particular way because I’m vegetarian and have been for more than 40 years. In all our dishes, we experiment and tweak to create depths of flavour and to make sure nutrition is satisfied.
For me, this dish is the people’s hero; they have decided that the chickpea bake is the standout dish over and above everything else we serve at Moroccan Soup Bar, my restaurant in Melbourne. People love it. It’s been described as anything from an “orchestra in your mouth”, to tacos, lasagne and chickpea salad. I think it’s the crazy combination of flavours – it tastes a bit like a dessert because of the caramelised nuts in butter, which just make it sing. I’m never reticent to share the recipe because it belongs to the community that gave it the status.
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Hana Assafiri’s chickpea bake
Prep time: 15 minutes (plus overnight soaking, if using dried chickpeas)
Cook time: 45 minutes
1½ cups dried chickpeas or 3 cups cooked chickpeas
2 large round flatbreads
200g salted butter, melted
2–3 tsp salt flakes
5 cloves garlic
300g plain yoghurt
1 tbsp tahini
100g slivered almonds
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley to serve
If using dried chickpeas, place them in a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave overnight to plump up. The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas, discarding the soaking water.
Place the chickpeas in a large saucepan and cover with plenty of cold water. Bring to the boil over high heat and cook for 30–40 minutes, until softened. (The time will vary depending on the size of the chickpeas, so check them every 15 minutes to ensure they remain covered with water and don’t overcook.) Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C.
Place the flatbreads directly on an oven shelf and toast for 8–10 minutes. Remove from the oven, place on a large baking tray and generously brush with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt flakes, then return to the oven and toast for a further 4–5 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven, turn the flatbreads over and generously brush with a little more melted butter. Sprinkle with another pinch of salt flakes and return to the oven for another 4–5 minutes.
When the bread has finished toasting, break it into corn chip–sized pieces, and place in a shallow serving dish. Set aside.
Place the garlic and remaining salt in a mortar and use the pestle to crush the garlic to a smooth paste. Transfer to a small bowl, add the yoghurt and tahini and stir to combine.
Place the remaining butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the slivered almonds and cook for 1.5–2 minutes, until golden brown, fragrantly nutty and almost caramelised. Immediately remove from the heat.
Working quickly, spoon the hot, just-cooked chickpeas over the toasted buttery flatbread, then thickly cover with the garlicky yoghurt mixture and sprinkle the paprika on top.
While still nice and hot, pour the melted butter and almonds over the yoghurt topping – it should make a “tsh” sound when the hot butter meets the cold yoghurt. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and enjoy.
Note: This dish can easily be made vegan by using tahini in place of yoghurt. But you have to create the same texture as yoghurt by adding garlic, lemon and salt, thinning it down with chickpea brine and whizzing it together. Replace the butter with vegan butter or oil.
This is an extract from the Broadsheet cookbook Home Made, which features 80 diverse recipes for home cooking, sourced from Melbourne's best cooks, chefs and restaurants. Published by Plum, the book is available for $49.95 at shop.broadsheet.com.au