Shawarma cafes and Arabian-cuisine inspired restaurants can be found in every major street in Bangalore and new ones seem to spring up every month. But how do you know if you are going to end up having Shish Taouk or just garlic-infused kebabs? Read on to find clues on how to find out you are in a good Arabic restaurant.
The Garlic Sauce
First of all they need to serve garlic sauce or ‘garlic paste’ as the true Lebanese staff would call it. I have found that a lot of these “Arabian” restaurants don’t even know that they need to have it on their menu or serve it with their signature kebabs. The sauce shouldn’t be too thick or too thin and should have the right amount of garlic in it. If served perfectly the sauce is the most integral part of your meal, making you go – “Mashallah!”
Most restaurants serve hummus, but if you’re left with a strong chickpea taste in your mouth, then don’t bother returning to the restaurant you are at. Of course hummus is made with chickpeas but also tons of other ingredients.
Shawarma is not just pita bread wrapped chicken. It is the backbone of Arabian fast-food. It should be a delicate combination of the bread, correctly cooked chicken, green lettuce and cabbage, garlic sauce and the most important of all – golden brown French fries. What it shouldn’t contain? Onions and excess of garlic sauce.
Fattoush & Tabbouleh
Don’t be scared of their complex sounding names. These are Arabian salads and must be part of the menu. While Fattoush should be served with fried pieces of pita bread (Not milk bread!) and large cut pieces of an assortment of green vegetables, Tabbouleh is an Arabian dish of finely cut greens garnished with olive oil and lemon. If they don’t have it on their menu, consider walking out in a huff.
For all you vegetarians out there, this veggie delight should be your typical order at any Arabic restaurant. Even the non-vegetarians won’t be left craving meat if the right falafel is served. Falefel balls can be served as a snack, part of a meze (appetizer) or even in rolls or sandwiches, making a whole meal. It should be deep-fried and crisp on the outside, juicy and soft on the inside, preferably served hot.