For the love of Fattet Magdous.

Fattet Magdous - Fatah & Sanobr - Abu Hail - Syrian Restaurant in DubaiIf you’re having one of those days where you want to bolt out of the office, grab the first available garden hose and spray-silence the blockhead sitting across from you in the meeting room – only to realize that your office on the 23rd floor has a great view but no garden, and the garden downstairs has only sprinklers in sight – this is what you should do. Elevator yourself back down to earth, get in the car and drive out for some soul-stroking comfort food.

And no, I don’t mean burgers. Even though that seems to be all people are eating these days. Burgers and buns. Buns and burgers. Burgers and black buns. Droves of Dubai diners are jumping on the bunwagon, though I’m not one to complain. At least we’re hearing less of everyone and their aunt harp on about the kale smoothie they regurgitated that morning.

One of the big hitters in the Levantine comfort food list is Fattet Magdous. If made well, this richly layered dish can bang the buns off of most burgers. The new Syrian joint Fateh & Sanobr in Abu Hail does a version which almost lives up to the mental fantasy I’ve harboured after reading about Fattet Magdous in Salma Abdelnour’s book, Jasmine and Fire: “I luxuriate in every bite, no need to share with anyone on this solo lunch.”

Fattet Magdous - Fatah & Sanobr - Abu Hail - Syrian Restaurant in Dubai

Fattet Magdous is a well-calculated play on textures. Plump eggplants stuffed with mince meat line up at centre spot, crisp pita at backfield. As you pass your spoon to the eggplant below, creamy whipped yogurt and tahina dribble through every gap, intercepted ever so often by a crunchy pine nut or pomegranate seed. Fateh & Sanobr adds whole pistachios to their game – not as common, but not unwelcome either. The kicker is melted butter (isn’t it always?), invisible to the eye but scoring tangible points in a dish that scores touchdown after touchdown on a day that you’d almost written off as irredeemable.

Fateh & Sanobr may still be ironing out kinks in their kitchen, but their cool home-churned laban provides instant creamy gratification as you beg for your food to be brought out. The chicken livers in pomegranate sauce are another must-try and far more worthy of your appetite than the bland makanek (sausages) or lacklustre hummus (a crime really, especially at a Syrian restaurant).

Laban - Fatah & Sanobr - Abu Hail - Syrian Restaurant in Dubai

Driving advice: Pick a Friday or a weekday lunch, unless you masochistically enjoy reducing yourself to a car-sloth in the Dubai-Sharjah traffic jungle.

Other places with a frighteningly delicious Fatteh: Fattet Hummus at Al Hallab (with chickpeas replacing the eggplant) and Fattet Djaj (with chicken, no eggplant) at Khan Murjan in the Wafi Souk.

Dima Sharif’s blog for the recipe of Fattet Magdous
Salma Abdelnour, Jasmine and Fire, A Bittersweet Year in Beirut

Google map: Click here to see a map with Fateh & Sanobr, along with my other food hideouts in the city.

Fatah & Sanobr - Abu Hail - Syrian Restaurant in Dubai

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

2 thoughts on “For the love of Fattet Magdous.

  1. Lara Matossian says:

    My goodness! This made me drool! My mother is just back from the U.S., SciFest is over, and I’ve been meaning to explore somewhere new. This is PERFECT! Thank you.


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