Seattle is fantastic for seafood, coffee and fresh air – not so much for falafel. Here, a good sandwich consists of the usual patties, tomato, onion, lettuce, and either tahini or tzatziki sauce – usually the latter, at various Greek establishments.
But where Seattle fails, Toronto excels – Lebanese falafel joints are scattered throughout the streets, as prevalent as Starbucks in the emerald city and far more delectable delights within. Falafel patties are nestled amidst the usual lettuce, tomato and onion, but also surrounded by pickled turnips (not pickled beets, as they appear to be), pickled cabbage, tahini sauce, hummus and garlic sauce. The resulting combination is exceptionally delicious and something I knew I wanted to reproduce at home, especially since the husband’s favorite food is the same sandwich he used to get from Ali Baba’s.
How to get started on such a tantalizing task? First off, a gracious Lebanese friend of mine asked his mother for the recipes for the pickled turnips, cabbage, tahini sauce and garlic sauce – while these sorts of recipes are online, I wanted to hear them from a reliable, experienced source. The pickled turnips took about 4 days to marinate so they were started off earlier in the week, quickly darkening into a deep pink hue (the recipe to come in the next few days). The day of the dinner-making event the remainder of the items were prepared. The end result came out PERFECTLY, but not without a few hitches along the way:
Garlic sauce is trickier than it seems – blending a small amount seems near impossible in a normal sized food processor or blender, and even with the hand blender it never quite came together as it should have – a consistency like mayo, and a light (but subtly strong) flavor. We ended up purchasing a ready-made product from a local restaurant line after our version failed to come together.
Without a solid recipe for the pickled cabbage, I incorrectly assumed that the red wine vinegar would properly turn the vegetable a shade of pink. As you can see from the picture, that wasn’t the case. Next time I’ll go for red cabbage.
Besides those hiccups, the final sandwich was AMAZINGLY AWESOME. Unfortunately most of the pictures I took were blurry (no tripod in the mix this time) and the lighting was poor that time of night, but next time I’ll make sure to grab an even better shot! Coming soon, several pictures of the pickled turnip extravaganza and the recipe!