Karam – Chicken Shawarma

Instagram Post 11/6/2018

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The Arabic word shawarma has its roots in the Turkish word çevirme, turning, which describes the pirouetting conically-stacked slabs of marinated chicken as they inch past the searing glow of the vertical rotisserie. Karam, at 8519 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, offers two variations on the popular street food: beef & lamb and chicken, and prepares one of the very best in this Middle Eastern neighborhood (which probably should have earned the moniker Little Levant, but didn’t).

Shown here is chicken shawarma; packed with deftly-seasoned succulent meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and dressed with a yogurt based sauce, it was one of the finest delicacies we enjoyed that day.
 
 

Karam – Za’atar and Tomato Pie

Instagram Post 11/3/2018

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There are numerous Middle Eastern restaurants in Bay Ridge but there is only one Karam. Many of these restaurants make flatbread pies that go by many names like manoush, manoushe, manousheh, mankousheh, manakish, manaqish, manaeesh or manakeesh, not to mention specialized versions like lahmacun or lahmajoun, and each of these many names goes by many spellings.

Karam calls them simply “pies”. And that’s all you need to remember because they are far and away the best in the neighborhood in my opinion. The bread is fresh and supple, the toppings bright and flavorful, the aroma intense and intoxicating.

Here’s our tomato and za’atar pie, one of their many varieties. Za’atar (which itself goes by many spellings and regional recipes) is a blend of thyme and sesame seeds (the mandatory pair) and other herbs and spices like sumac, hyssop, oregano, and savory. Za’atar can be overpowering if applied with a heavy hand, but the sweet tomatoes mitigated any attempt to commandeer our palates. Try this pie.

That’s not all we enjoyed that day, of course; I’ll post more from Karam, the wonderful Lebanese restaurant, soon. In the meantime, I recommend that you experience their delicious food for yourself at 8519 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
 
 

The World’s Fare – Wafa’s Express

Instagram Post 5/7/2018

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Here’s another World’s Fare delight, this time from Wafa’s Express, 812 Grand St, Brooklyn. I like it when there’s a brick-and-mortar restaurant that anchors a festival vendor because it means we can indulge in their goodies pretty much any time we want to. Wafa’s features Lebanese cuisine, represented here by mujaddara and falafel.
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Mujaddara is a combination of bulgur wheat and lentils, but the caramelized onions on top are as important to the dish as the other components, not merely a garnish, and serve to make it something memorable. Those are crunchy turnips pickled in beet juice coddling the mujaddara.
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The falafel, artfully drizzled with tahini and hot sauce, were delicious as well and yes, I fell for their falafel!