What I miss most about living in Shepherds Bush, where I was for so many years, is the fantastic North African Shops and Restaurants in the Uxbridge Road. I used to spend so much time lurking around in Damas Gate and then the even bigger and grander Al-Abbas, which opened a few years ago. There was a fantastic Halal Butcher just round the corner called Naama, which sold beautiful little lamb chops at a fraction of the price of the supermarkets. He also had stunning kebabs and little spicy sausages with pinenuts, all made fresh everyday. We had a lovely little shop called Nut Case, which as the name implies, just specialised in a fantastic array of nuts, and coffee as well. There were countless shops selling beautiful Baklava (Lebanese sweets) - lovely light layers of pastry, bursting with nuts and dripping with honey. I loved picking up hot freshly made Falafel at Mr Falafel in Shepherds Bush Market and eating them as a hot snack with the kids. My favourite Syrian restaurant was there, Abu-Zaad, where we often ate, but more often, I would just pop in and pick up some delicious Demascan starters for a picnic in the park. Then the kids and I would head off to Ravenscourt Park for the day, armed with freshly fried Falafel and tubs of Hummus, Moutabal, Tabbouleh, Fattoush Salad, some Labneh and lots of freshly baked pitta bread. Also fantastic freshly made juices. Melon was always our favourite on a hot summer’s day!
2 cups dried chick peas 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 4 cloves of garlic crushed 1 tsp ground coriander 2 tsp ground cumin 1 small onion chopped 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional) 1/2 cup fresh coriander chopped Soak the chick peas in water and bicarbonate of soda overnight or for 24 hours. Rinse and drain. Put all the ingredients in a food processor, and blend till you get a thick paste. Remove and keep in the fridge for 1 hour before use. If the mixture is too dry it will not stick together but on the other hand if it is too wet it will break up when frying. If too dry add a little water. If too wet, squeeze some out. Divide and shape the mixture into small balls, the size of a walnut. Flatten with your hand, then deep fry in medium, hot oil until golden brown. Serve warm in pitta bread, with lots of salad and Tarator, (Tahini let down with lemon Juice and water). I like a dollop of hummus and a little chilli sauce with mine as well.