Fatteh: A Traditional Breakfast From the Middle-East
Meaning “crushed” or “crumbs” in Arabic, fatteh is a favorite Levantine dish that is traditionally served for breakfast or brunch. Its name refers to the pieces of pita bread that serve as the base of this layered casserole. The bread pieces are topped with savory chickpeas, tangy yogurt, and additional garnishes, to make an irresistible dish that will have you coming back for more.
Levant is derived from the French word lever, which means “to rise,” as in sunrise. And thus, Levantine more-or-less means “to the east,” where dawn occurs. Historically, this refers to the countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores: Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.
As part of the “fertile crescent”, the Levantine region saw some of humanity’s earliest agriculture, and served as the cradle of civilization more than 10,000 years ago. Related to the Mediterranean diet, Levant cuisine relies on fresh, healthy ingredients. And although also known for delicious grilled meats and seafood dishes, many of its staples are ideal for vegans and vegetarians.
A Healthy Way To Start The Day
As stated, fatteh is a popular morning meal dish across much of the Middle East. That’s because it is delicious as well as nutritious. Many Western breakfast items such as pancakes, donuts, and cereal, are loaded with sugar. Starting a day like this sets one up for a sugar crash, as well as a number of other health issues. But that’s not the case for this traditional breakfast dish of Lebanon and other Levantine countries.
Fatteh’s chickpeas (aka: garbanzo beans) are packed with nutrients such as fiber, protein, folate, iron, phosphorus, copper, and manganese. These can help you manage your hunger and weight while still supporting your muscles, and may even fight chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Yogurt is also an excellent source of protein, as well as potassium, phosphorus and vitamin D. It is also a tremendous source of probiotics, which support proper digestion and overall gut health. Further, eating yogurt is also benficial to bone health.
And last but not least: pita bread. Sure, it is mostly carbs, which can get a bad rap as empty calories. However, this is not the majority ingredient in this dish. And when consumed at breakfast or brunch, they can provide energy throughout the day. So don’t feel guilty about digging in. Enjoy the flavorful meal and be satisfied knowing you’ll be fueled for the day ahead of you!
Chickpeas – 1 can, approx. 16oz
Plain Yogurt – Approx. 3 cups (*Middle Eastern / Greek Yogurt works best)
Pita Bread – 3 full pieces
Tahini – 2 tbsp
Lemon Juice – 1-2 tbsp
Ground Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Parsley (Italian / Flat-Leaf)
- Flavor your chickpeas… In a medium sauce pan: combine chickpeas, 2 cloves of crushed/minced garlic and 1 tbsp of ground cumin with an additional cup of water. Cook over med-high heat for 20 mins.
- Prepare your yogurt… In a separate dish: combine yogurt with tahini, lemon juice, 3 cloves of crushed/minced garlic, and 1/2 tbsp of salt. Stir thoroughly and set aside.
(*Hint: give it a taste, and add more salt if needed.)
- Don’t forget to stir your chickpeas. 🙂
- Break your bread… Split & separate the sides of your pita bread, then cut into into 1-2 inch squares. Loosely arrange these pieces of pita bread to cover the bottom of a serving dish.
(*Hint: make sure the serving dish has sides high enough to hold the yogurt going on top! Something like a 9″ x 9″ baking dish works great.)
- Use a slotted spoon to layer the chickpeas over the pita bread. Add a few tablespoons of the flavorful broth in which the chickpeas cooked, to further moisten the pita bread.
- Sprinkle with another teaspoon each of cumin and black pepper. Add a dash of red pepper flakes.
- Smother the chickpeas and pita with the yogurt mixture.
- Add another dash of red pepper flakes and light sprinkle of cumin.
- Garnish with pomegranate seeds, a parsley leaves, and a drizzle of olive oil.
Round out your luscious Levantine meal by serving your fatteh with sides of: fresh green onions and radishes, as well as pickles and olives!
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