Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Beef and Eggplant (Aubergine) Fatteh Recipe or Middle Eastern Nachos

"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength".
-Marcus Aurelius

The fresh Mint is still to be added

Fatteh is an Arabic word meaning crushed or crumbs, and often refers to a dish consisting of fresh, toasted or stale flatbread covered with other ingredients. Day old homemade pita bread is often used for fatteh recipes. What a clever creation this dish is, a Middle Eastern version of the universal family favourite, Mexican Nachos. If you can grow eggplant, well you are half way there, but either way this is an easy and economical dish to prepare. If you would  like to add even a bit more heat to the meat mixture, why not chop up and throw in one of those largish red capilano chillies, they are quite sweet really. 

This recipe is originally from Nigella Lawson's recipe book "At My Table", which amazingly I don't own although my daughter does, (I gave it to her) and the recipe is a favourite of our friends Mr. P & Mrs. J where we first tasted it. I love watching Nigella Lawson's cooking shows and she has a BBC series called "At My Table" which I haven't seen yet, and I believe she makes this dish for the series. With a lot of  families isolating at home now, and children at home for the forseeable future, and with no restaurants opening anytime soon, we are all looking for easy, economical but tasty meal options. It occurred to me that the time is right for a dish like this. Treat yourself, it's a cinch to make and so tasty. You can also prepare it as part of a larger Middle Eastern style feast for the family, something different, by assembling some other Middle Eastern Dips around it such as Baba Ganoush and Chickpea Hummus, with chopped up vegetables, nuts, olives and  dried biscuits and hey presto you have a party atmosphere. Variety is the spice of life and I think we are all seeking some variety in our lives at present.

If you are lucky enough to have plenty of flour in your house and lots of yoghurt, you can also bake your own pita or flatbread. Jamie Oliver has a good online recipe for this. Mr. HRK and I have made this flatbread before but I don't have any photos to show you. It's a good recipe. 

Other variations to this dish could be to substitute chickpeas or minced lamb for the minced beef.


For the base:

4 pita breads, approximately 250 g. ( split open, and cut them into triangles resembling nachos)

For the topping:

500 g Greek yoghurt
5  tablespoons tahini, at room temperature
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1-2 lemons) the real stuff, not out of a plastic container
2 cloves minced garlic, after peeling
1-2 tablespoons sea salt flakes, to taste

Eggplant layer:

500g minced beef
3 tablespoons regular olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped ( about 125 g.)
1 large eggplant, cut into small cubes (350 g)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika or Aleppo pepper (plus more for sprinkling)
1-2 teaspoons sea salt flakes to taste

To Sprinkle Over:

125 g pomegranate seeds
50 g pine nuts, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon finely shredded mint leaves

Let's Cook:

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C/180 deg. C Fan Forced. Spread the pita triangles onto a large baking tray and toast for 10-15 minutes, they need to be crisp like nachos triangles. Set them aside for a moment
  2. Beat the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and 1 teaspoon of sea salt flakes together in a heatproof bowl, and set aside while you cook the eggplant-beef layer. This bowl of yoghurt will later warm up over a saucepan.
  3. Warm up the oil in a  wide, heavy based saucepan (like a Scanpan) and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, over a medium low heat for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to low and keep cooking the onion until it is a soft and pale caramel colour. This will take approximately another 4 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat up slightly, and throw in the aubergine cubes and mix them well with the onion. Keep stirring these vegetables for about 10 minutes so that they don't burn, and until the eggplant is softened and cooked.
  5. Stir in the cumin, coriander and a teaspoon each of the paprika or Aleppo pepper and sea salt flakes. Over a high heat add the mince and use a fork to break it up a little and turn in the pan until it has lost its red colour. Turn down the heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and all of the ingredients are well combined and smelling wonderful. Take off the heat and cover. (This step with the mince could be precooked to save you time.)
  6. Now for the Tahini-yoghurt sauce.
  7. Pour some just boiled water into a fresh saucepan, enough to come about 3 cm up the sides, and put over a low heat on your stove. Sit the bowl with the tahini yoghurt mixture on top of the pan, and make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.  Beat well until the yoghurt is just above room temperature with the consistency of lightly whipped cream.
  8. It's time to assemble this creation.
  9. Arrange the crisp pita triangles on a large round plate, about 32 cm in diameter. Top with the beef and eggplant mixture, followed by the yoghurt-tahini sauce. Sprinkle with the paprika to give a light dusting. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts and lastly decorate with finely shredded fresh mint leaves. 
  10. Eat with your fingers, nachos style however some people might like a fork to gather the last bits and pieces on the plate. It's finger lickin' good.
This is one of those dishes where the whole is greater that the sum of its parts.

Keep safe and healthy,

Warmest wishes,



  1. I adore Middle Eastern food! The nachos looks so good and I could devour the whole portion myself!!

  2. i think that is the only book of Nigella's i don't have! I love Feast, and have used recipes from it many times. This looks like a very tasty dish pauline. Keep well and safe

  3. That photo is incredibly appealing, especially the pomegranate seed garnish. Your markets must be incredibly well-stocked to have them, also to have pine nuts. Great idea, though I'm not sure it's fair to call it a "version" of the Mexican dish, which implies that the Middle Eastern cooks were influenced by the Mexicans, rather than a dish original to them.

    be well... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    1. Thanks Mae, I think it's us (Nigella anyway) that have used Middle Eastern ingredients to assemble a nachos style dish. There's a lot of food fusion happening these days. Stay safe, Pauline

  4. Oh yum,I love flavours from Middle East, that looks so good☺


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