Saturday, February 18, 2012

Maroush London


Just as there is a deep relationship between India and the UK, there is an equally long and deep relationship between several Arab countries and the UK. A large part of the Middle East was been colonised by the British and today, the Arabs have huge investments in the UK particularly London. You must know that the iconic British store Harrods was owned for years by Mohamed Al Fayed the Egyptian businessman. He recently sold it to Qatar Holdings owned by the Qatari Royal family. The Arabs do have a large presence in the UK.

Lebanese food is of very good quality in London. There are loads of Lebanese restaurants scattered all around London with a huge concentration on Edgware Road. This is virtually mini Lebanon. Lebanese food is a great favourite of ours. Sometimes when we want something different from a Chinese soup for lunch we grab a Shawarma and a glass of fresh juice. Sometimes we have a full Lebanese meal for dinner. If we are on a budget and want a quick meal, it’s Beirut Express for us. For a more relaxed meal in more restaurant surroundings it’s often Maroush Gardens.

During the time we spent almost 6 months here, completing our Cordon Bleu course, we ate Lebanese food quite often. It was a Friday night and we thought it was wise to make a reservation at Maroush at Vere Street. We were asked if we would prefer to enjoy some music and some belly dancing which is on offer at the lower level of the restaurant, but we chose not to and opted for the more casual upper floors.

We started the evening with a pint or two of Cider [for HRH the Queen] and Guinness for me to prepare us for the meal.

For starters we ordered Baba Ghanouj also called Moutabal, which is Aubergine [Brinjal] roasted, mashed and mixed with Tahini and seasoned with lemon. Here it was garnished with some Pomegranate jewels. The deep smoky taste was lovely. A sort of cold sans masala Baingan Bharta. One of our favourite starters is Sojuk which are lamb sausages which are cooked with a tomato sauce. These are quite delicious and contrast well with the cold  Baba Ghanouj. Grilled Haloumi Cheese is a mild rubbery cheese. It makes your teeth squeak when eating. Of course we must have a Sambousek which is exactly like a mutton samosa though its shaped like a Maharashtrian sweet called `Karanji', its crescent shaped. Another favourite is the Homus which is a Kabuli Channa Paste mixed with Tahini. To further up the vegetable content you could order the Okra - Bhindi to you and me which is cooked in a Tomato sauce with some pearl onions.All delicious.

`Free' vegetables that come to the table

Sambousek - Like a Mutton Samosa

Baba Ghanouj

Grilled Haloumi

Sojuk - A Lamb Sausage
Houmus


Okra 

Maroush Kalaj [A sort of  grilled cheese sandwich with Pita and Haloumi cheese] 

Homous Awarma [Homous with fried Lamb]

For our main course we had decided that we would not have the usual Shawarmas. The Lebanese do grilled meats quite well, though they are quite different from our Kebabs. The advantage you have eating grilled meat in London is that the quality of the meat is so good that grilled meat is really a good choice. I had what is known as Kafta Khosh-Khash which is skewers of minced lamb. HRH the Queen had Koussa Warak Inab and Stuffed Aubergine. This is actually a stew. Courgette [Zucchini] and baby Aubergine are hollowed out then stuffed with a mixture of uncooked rice and seasoned raw minced meat. The Vine leaves are also stuffed with this mixture and wrapped into tight cigars. The whole lot is then stewed in a tomato based gravy. The Gravy gets flavoured with the stuffing and the vegetables and the vegetables get flavoured with the tomato gravy. Really delicious. All this is sopped up with fresh hot Pita bread that they serve you free.

At another meal,we had a Kafta Yoghurtlieh. This is partly Turkish. The dish comprises of a Lamb Kofta that is grilled. They add crisp fried Pita bread and some fried Pine Nuts as garnish. To this they add a sort of `Dahi Kadhi'. Yoghurt is whisked, thickened with some Cornflour and enriched with a egg and heated and, naturally, the whisked Yoghurt thickens. Dahi Kadhi is basically the same concept. Yoghurt thickened with Chickpea [Channa/Besan] and boiled till it thickens. The combination of the Kebabs and the Yoghurt is really quite delicious.

The Kofta 

Stuffed Courgette
Kafta Yoghurtlieh [Minced Lamb kebabs with fried Pita, Pine Nuts and Yoghurt] 
It was a good meal. Meals at any of the Maroush restaurants are always a good bet and the good thing is they come at different price points. It felt nice to be eating without a suit on. 

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