Kataifi Prawns (serves 3-4 as an entree)

This simple and quick recipe is great for entrees or just a light snack.

It is healthier than tempura prawns or prawn cocktails as it does not involve any frying and looks interesting on the plate.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 packet kataifi, kept out for a few hours until it is room temperature
  • 500gr prawns
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used an African-style rub mix)

Method:

1. Heat oven to 200C.

2. Peel and de-vein prawns, leaving the tails on.

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3. Take some kataifi out gently and put it in a small bowl. Separate some of the strands so it is easier to work with.

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4. Beat the egg with a fork and add salt, pepper and your choice of seasoning.

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5. Lay the kataifi strands out in a long line. Place the prawn at the top of the strand and roll it down to the bottom until covered. Place on an oiled tray.

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6. Once all prawns are covered in kataifi, place tray in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until pastry is golden and crispy.

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Enjoy!

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La Kasbah, Drummoyne ($$)

Address: 190 Victoria Rd  Drummoyne NSW

Tel: (02) 9719 9261

Website: http://www.lakasbahdrummoyne.com.au/

* * *

Atmosphere

We bought a Groupon deal for La Kasbah and after weeks of trying to find a suitable date for the four of us to visit, we finally locked in a Friday night.

I had called to make a booking and the man who answered the phone (who I am assuming was the owner, Mohammed), was nice but not too friendly and I was a bit surprised to hear screaming kids in the background.

When we got there, we walked through a bit of a corridor until we reached a sliding door with glass windows. To our left was an open kitchen in which we could see a lady (which the website tells me is Siham, Mohammed’s wife). Once we got through the doors, we came to a medium sized room with chairs all around it and some purple and green patterned cloth hanging from the walls.

To be honest, the place is quite dated. The patterned fabric is not very attractive and the walls and decor look old. The kitchen area is very easy to see from the dining room and there are all sorts of ornaments and messy bits and pieces everywhere. It really does feel like you are eating in someone’s house.

My dad used the bathroom and said it was OK but there was a bathtub in there as well, which sort of reinforces the whole “eating in someone’s house” thing.

That said, it wasn’t as though the place was dirty. I think if they removed the curtains, painted it a nice Moroccan-y colour and put some nice mosaics on the wall it would look a lot nicer and cleaner. Also, covering up the kitchen area would make a huge difference!

1

Service

Service was very average. The owner is not very friendly at all, in fact when mum and I walked in to meet my dad and brother who were already seated, we weren’t even greeted with a “hello”.

His wife however was very pleasant and always had a smile on her face when she came to serve us the tagines.

My brother and parents thought food was a little slow to come out of the kitchen, but I didn’t think it took that long.

Overall, service was not that great. I think if the wife had been out greeting people it  would have been a lot better!

Food

To start with we each got to choose an entree.

They were all pretty similar, some sort of skewer with salad, each costing between $9.50 to $10.70.

I ordered the spicy sausages. I expected the sausages to be like those at Twelve Spices Lao & Thai Cuisine– large, generous and very spicy. However, I was surprised to get three skinny sausages with some average salad.  While the sausages were tasty, they were very small and didn’t look nice on the plate at all. The salad had a nice dressing but was just an average salad which we could have made at home ourselves. There wasn’t anything Moroccan about my dish.

3The bro ordered the beef skewers which were a little tough and hard to eat, but again had an OK flavour to them.

4

My mum’s mince meat kofta skewers were tasty, with parsley, onion and herbs. She enjoyed this part of the meal and said it was probably the best out of the three courses.

5

Finally, the chicken brochette with olive oil, onion, parsley, garlic and lemon juice, was probably the best looking entree out of the four. It also had good flavours and a nice breast bit of chicken.

6

For mains, we all decided to order a tagine (costing about $17.90-18.90) which, looking back was probably not the best idea. We should have instead tried the cous cous dish to see what it was like.

First out was my honey chicken tagine with cinnamon and sultanas. It contained two chicken legs with some mixed vegetables including carrots, courgettes and potatoes. All in all, I was disappointed as I had expected chicken breast pieces marinated in a thick and creamy sauce. What I got was a water, flavourless sauce, some boiled chicken leg and vegetables with a sprinkle of raisins. Very disappointing.

7

The other dishes were no different. All were cooked in the same yellowy tumeric sauce. The bro had a lemon chicken dish with preserved lemon and stuffed olives, but everything else about his dish was the same as mine.

8

Mum had a beef tagine with olives, tomatoes and a palm sized piece of beef.  The beef was tender and cooked until it was soft, which made it easy to eat.

10

Finally, my dad’s lamb tagine with prunes and honey was again, the same sort of thing.

9

While each dish was slightly different in terms of toppings, the vegetables, flavours, presentation and appearance were all the same.

In terms of portions, my brother was still hungry and we were quite disappointed with the size of the tagine and the entrees.

Still, we held on with some hope for dessert!

I ordered a lemon crepe, with honey and cinnamon and a side of whipped cream. This was probably the best thing I had there all night. Although again, the serving was stingy (one pancake for $7.50- really?), but the flavours were amazing.

I had never used lemon with cinnamon and honey before and I really liked the combination of flavours.

12

My bro’s picked the chocolate crepe which had a drizzle of a sort of sundae sauce. It was pretty average and could have done with a scoop of ice cream, a side of strawberries and another pancake.

13

My parents both ordered the only other dessert available (the briout was not available)- the creme caramel. It was quite well presented and my dad said he enjoyed it, but when I tried some I thought it was a little watery. Overall, not that bad as far as creme caramels go, but not amazing.

14

Overall a very disappointing experience.

While the lady was friendly and the entrees were tasty, the portion sizes in general left you feeling as though you had been ripped off. The decor is very dull and dated, and the menu options are limited.

Cost

We used a Groupon voucher for this deal.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service-4.5
  • Food- 4
  • Ambience-4
  • Value –4

La Kasbah on Urbanspoon

Gordon Lebanese Cuisine, Gordon ($$)

Address: Shop 9, Gordon Village Centre, Pacific Highway Gordon

Tel: (02) 9498 8773

Website: http://www.gordonlebanesecuisine.com.au/

* * *

I have been craving Lebanese food for a couple of weeks now (yes, weeks!) and decided to try out one of the restaurants on the North Shore.

Atmosphere

The restaurant is quite spacious but there were only 3 tables (including ours) of customers. Not that great for a Friday night.

The decor is quite simple, cream coloured walls with framed he photos of Lebanon on hanging up. There was a red feature wall on one side which brightened the room a little.

Service

As soon as we entered the restaurant (without a booking too), we were greeted by a very friendly man (perhaps the owner?) who quickly showed us to a table.

He was our waiter for the night and was very friendly and helpful. Service was fantastic and he came to check on us a few times throughout the night, but not so often that we felt as though we were being disturbed.

The only thing I would mention in relation to service was that the skewers came out a little while after the dips and salad. I would have preferred if they all came out together or if the fattoush and skewers came out after we had finished with the dips.

Food

We decided to order the banquet at $28.00 per person (drinks not included).

The first dishes to come out were the dips: hommus and baba ghanoush with Lebanese bread and the fattoush.

1

I thought the dips looked lovely and appetising with the paprika and olive oil on top of them.

The Lebanese bread however was served in a small cane basket but was still in the plastic bag when they brought it out. I would have preferred it if they had taken it out of the bag and maybe laid it out on a serviette in the basket.

2MC and I really enjoyed the hommus as it was creamy and flavoursome and the olive oil meant it wasn’t at all dry.The baba ghanoush was very smoky and had an interesting flavour. While it was nice, I preferred the hommus.

Both dips had large portion sizes for two people and we didn’t finish either.

3

A fattoush is a salad with crispy bread in it.

This salad was fresh and had a tangy balsamic dressing over it. The lettuce was not soggy and the vegetables were crisp. The toasted Lebanese bread provided some added crunch and I also enjoyed dipping it into the hommus and baba ghanoush.

We got a huge bowl of the fattoush which was more than enough for the two of us.

I enjoyed the salad overall, my only comment would be that there was a little too much dressing on the bottom, but hey, you can’t please everyone!

6

Next out was the plate of kebabs and koftas.

This was the main event but was not presented very well as it was simply piled onto an oval dish. with pieces of Lebanese bread on top of and under the skewers. Some extra effort on presentation would really improve this dish and restaurant.

Presentation aside, there were 3 skewers for each of us of:

  • Lamb pieces;
  • Mince beef kafta; and
  • Chicken breast pieces.

They were served with a side of garlic sauce which went really well with the lovely meats.

The lamb and chicken skewers had large pieces of meat on them and all the meat was tender, well-cooked and juicy. Absolutely enjoyed these delicious and tasty skewers- they were some of the best I have had!

4

To finish off we were served a (very) small cup of Turkish coffee and some sweets.

I asked for the coffee sweet and although I generally don’t drink coffee without milk, I thought it was quite nice.

The sweets were two pieces of baklava, which is a kind of syrupy filo pastry filled with crushed nuts. Baklava is one of my favourite sweets and I really enjoyed it but thought that the presentation and the dessert overall could be lifted a little with the addition of two pieces of Turkish delight as well to brighten up the plate.

7

Cost:

Pretty cheap for quite a lot of yummy food. Decent portion sizes as well, so overall good value.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

    • Service- 8.5
    • Food- 7
    • Ambience- 4
    • Value – 8.5

Gordon Lebanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Kazbah, Top Ryde ($$)

Address: La Piazza, Top Ryde Shopping Centre, Cnr Devlin Street and Blaxland Road, Ryde

Tel: (02) 9555 7067

Website: http://www.kazbah.com.au

Opening Hours:

Open 7 days:

Mon- Friday 11.00am to 3.00pm and from 5.30pm onwards

Sat and Sun 8.00am to 3.00pm

* * *

After a lovely post-uni/ pre-graduation massage with one of my best friends, we headed to Kazbah for a lazy Sunday lunch.

After checking out the menu and being seated,  the waiter asked us what we wanted to drink before she gave us the menus. Bad start.

We asked for a few minutes so we could browse the menu and then ordered the 2 courses + wine deal. Unfortunately my friend and I aren’t huge wine drinkers so we asked if we could swap the wine for a frappe or juice (both were cheaper on the menu than the wine). We were told that we could not and, a bit disappointed, we ended up ordering a coke and a lift.

We were served water from an interesting looking jug (see below), and we soon received our entrees, which included an assortment of dishes from the mezze section of the menu.

Source: Kazbah website

First out was a trio of dips with some soft and fried Lebanese bread. The dips were yummy and fresh and fried Lebanese bread is one of my favourites!

Dips & Bread 

Lebanese Bread- fried on the left and soft on the right

Babaghanouj, Tzatziki and Hummus (from left to right)

Thinking the entrée was over, we were surprised (but not displeased) to find a mezze plate being placed on our table. The waiter quickly explained what was on the plate, but we barely heard what he said as he spoke too fast.

The plate contained:

  • Vegetarian eggplant samosas;
  • Chicken wings;
  • Grilled haloumi cheese;
  • Smoked salmon with avocado salsa; and
  • Tabouli.

We tried them one at a time, but my friend skipped the smoked salmon as it wasn’t really her thing (more for me!).

I found the samosas quite nice and unusual as I am used to mince meat or potatoes in samosas. They were a little spicy but the pastry was tasty and enjoyable.

We didn’t really know what the wings were, having not heard what the waiter said when he explained what was on the plate. We tried to cut it and realised there was a bone in the middle, and eventually worked out that they were fried wings! There was a tangy but sweet sauce drizzled over the wings and the green leaves added a bit of freshness, which we appreciated. I’m not 100% sure but looking at the menu, they were probably the char-grilled quail with pomegranate sauce.

Next was the haloumi cheese. I had never tried haloumi before and was intrigued by the thought of fried cheese. I expected a tofu-like taste, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was firmer, and less cheesy than I expected. I really enjoyed this cheese and think I will order it more often and perhaps see if I can find some in the deli next time I’m there.

I tried the smoked salmon and avocado salsa and, being a salmon lover, really enjoyed it. It was fresh and the tomatoes in the salsa cut through the richness of the salmon and the creamy avocado. Divine!

The tabouli was a great way to end the entrée as it was fresh and light.

The mains which we had ordered soon came out: my friend had ordered the Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab, and I ordered the Squid ink pasta with prawns.

 When my dish came out my initial reaction was, “great I’m going to have to de-shell the prawns.” However it wasn’t too difficult and thanks to my years of prawn-eating experience, I had soon de-shelled them.

I was a little disappointed that there were only 3 prawns in the dish. Although they were large, by the time I took the heads and shells off, there wasn’t much of them. However, they were cooked well and tasted great!

Harissa King Prawns, Squid Ink Linguine, Feta, Chakchouka, Baby Spinach, $25.00

The squid ink pasta was something I had wanted to try for a while as I had seen it on MasterChef last season when the contestants were in Italy (see here for an interesting article with more information on squid ink and squid ink pasta). It looks a little bit creepy (like it should be in a halloween movie) but tastes much the same as normal pasta, if a little rubbery. I read somewhere that it should have a salty flavour, but I think the pasta sauce in this dish may have overpowered that flavour a little.

The sauce was tomato-based and quite spicy, but tasted nice and overall, I did enjoy the dish.

I tried a bit of my friend’s Shish Kebab and thought it tasted great. The lamb was well seasoned and slightly charred on the outside and came with a few condiments and sides.

Lamb Kafta Shish Kebab served on pita bread with condiments, pickles, chips, $23.00

On a previous visit to Kazbah I have tried the Lemon Baharat Chicken Shish Kebab ($24.00) and remember thoroughly enjoying it, so I think the Shish Kebabs at Kazbah are a good option for diners wanting a taste of the Middle East without going too far out of their comfort zone!

Cost

The meal cost us about $80.00 all up with a Sunday surcharge of $7.00 and a credit card surcharge (which we weren’t too pleased about) + a small tip to round it up.

Rating

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 6
  • Food- 6.5
  • Ambience- 7
  • Value – 7

Kazbah Top Ryde on Urbanspoon