Barring a holiday in Crete and occasional restaurant dates, I don’t have much experience with Western Mediterranean cuisine. So, with great curiosity, I tucked in eagerly to this week’s Home Supper Club dishes from Syria.

The main dish was makloubi, served with kofta and fattoush salad. Makloubi itself is a dish of lightly spiced aubergines and tomatoes, fried, and served over rice. The aubergines are boiled for two to three minutes first, before being fried, seasoned, and layered on the bottom of an oven dish. The tomato slices go next, and lastly the freshly-boiled rice is packed on top before the whole thing is inverted and served. I’m still slowly getting my head around aubergines, but this was a pleasant experience. The slightly dry texture is probably my microwave’s fault – if nothing else, the Home Supper Club meals have definitely taught me the importance of eating food as soon as possible after it’s been cooked! 

The accompanying kofta is traditionally a style of meatball. Here it was made with lamb and rolled into a cigar-shape to be eaten on skewers like a kebab. Mixed with chilli, cardamom, garlic, and breadcrumbs, it was delicious – as was the vegan version made with chickpeas. Lamb is not a meat I’ve always enjoyed, but the more I eat it with HSC the more I’m starting to enjoy it. Thank goodness for the recipe cards: I very much look forward to making my own versions.

On the side was the fattoush salad. Eating what is essentially a large pile of leaves is not something I’m fond of, but somehow the chefs at The Plate have made it an enjoyable experience. This particular salad is a mixture of lettuce, cucumber, radishes, and khobez flatbread, covered in a dressing of sumac, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, and lemon juice. The flatbread (interchangeable with pitta bread) is fried until crispy, and mixed with the lettuce leaves and dressing. And it’s delicious. 

The mint yoghurt all of this was served with made an excellent dip, especially for the kofta. But the real star of the show was dessert: the kanafeh. It’s a mixture of shredded filo pastry, cheese, orange blossom syrup, and pistachio. It tasted divine. I’ll confess to some personal bias: I not only have a very sweet tooth but I also love citrus flavours in my desserts. So, something flavoured with orange blossom syrup was always likely to go down well. But even setting that aside, this was brilliant. Sweet, but not sickly, and with the hint of savoury from the filo, it reminded me of baklava. The amount of syrup in the kanafeh was less than you might get from a baklava, however, so it wasn’t quite as sticky as some I’ve had. In other words, it was an excellent sweet treat. 

In happier times, I’d be enjoying food like this with my friends and housemates. As it is, I mostly eat alone in my room. While this gives me a clearer head to focus on the food itself, the information pack that comes with the food talks often about the importance of food in other cultures. Very often, dinners are the focus of an evening, designed to be enjoyed by a whole family and/or friends. As the pack says of Syrian culture, food is all about hospitality and generosity.” I greatly admire that idea. It currently isn’t one I can put into practice, but I very much look forward to a time when I can, thereby introducing my friends to the fine foods I’ve experienced with The Home Supper Club. In the meantime, what’s next chef?

Written By Nick Dunn