When I moved to Sheffield, I was heart-broken for a bit because I couldn’t find proper Lebanese food there. However, it seemed like my mental suggestions to the universe eventually worked – a Lebanese place opened up soon, not 10 minutes away from my place. While it did not compare to Dubai-fare, it was something to keep me going (here I’m going to say the best shawarma I’ve had is in London, but that’s another story).
When it comes to my family, when they want a proper Lebanese meal, they order from Automatic. I’ve grown up with large family meals almost every Friday (until my grandfather passed away) and when it came to wanting arayes, hummus, shish taouk … they never questioned getting it from anywhere but.
My relatives from India always ask to eat here when they visit, and so we found ourselves journeying to Automatic. We went to the food court in Ibn Batttuta because my brother is more comfortable in open food courts than small, closed restaurants.
What did we order? Hummus, arayes, shish taouk, chicken shawarma plate and kababs. For those not initiated into Lebanese food, here’s my explanations (the best I can!):
Hummus. I can probably reach into the recesses of my mind and remember eating this when I was 3. It’s a paste/dip from chickpeas and is usually mixed with tahini (sesame paste) and olive oil. Normally eaten with Arabic bread (can be soft or the hard ones), I also love eating it with arayes or sheesh tawook or the kababs.
Arayes, only the best meat invention known to man- and womankind. Essentially these are grilled pitta breads stuffed with spiced meat (mostly lamb). Have with hummus or toom (a staple Lebanese garlic paste – you’ll see it slathered on the arayes in one of the pics).
Shish taouk’s turn. Cubes of chicken marinated and grilled and just tasting of pure juicy awesomeness. Hummus and/or toom and you’re set.
And chicken kababs! No need to explain these I hope!
Shawarma plate, which is pretty much all the ingredients you need for a shawarma on a plate for us to do as we will!