The UK definitely beats Canada when it comes to Indian food. “Grabbing a curry” is the most natural and normal thing you can do here and it’s really quite difficult to find yourself at a bad Indian restaurant….they’re all good–or amazing. So that’s pretty good, I can’t complain about that.
What I will complain about however, is a significant lack of access to good souvlaki/shwarma/shistaouk take away. I miss a lot of Montreal’s shining stars, like Souvlaki George, Arahova, and most of all — BOUSTAN!
The UK does something disgusting that is widely labeled as a “kebab” which is basically nasty meat slopped into some flatbread, served along some “chips” (that means french fries in the UK–and for chips they say crisps! weird.) I’ve never seen nor have I heard of a sober person eating a kebab. Kebab meat is strictly for drunkeness. 3am drunkeness.
This makes me so sad because if these English drunks ONLY KNEW the type of amazing food Montrealers had access too after a crazy night out at 4am, they’d pack their things and move to Canada IMMEDIATELY! $1 chow mein on St. Laurent, those 4 amazing Chinese noodle places on St Catherine Street, and of course, BOUSTAN. BOUSTAN BOUSTAN BOUSTAN BOUSTAN BOUSTAN. The most delicious and VALUE FOR MONEY Lebanese food you could ask for.
In the early days of Boustan, you could get a trio (shishtaouk or falafel pita, garlic potatoes and a drink) for less than $6 AND THEY WOULD DELIVER IT TO YOU FOR FREE!!!! UNTIL 4AM! When I first moved back to Montreal in 2003 Boustan became, and remained a part of my life for 7 glorious years until I moved to the heartland of Colonialism. And now, even though I’m geographically closer to Greece and Lebanon, it’s far more difficult to get my hands on some delicious chicken wrapped in warm soft (and slightly crispy) pita, with crispy veggies inside and some delicious garlic potatoes on the side. I had such a bad craving this week and I realized that if I wanted some Shishtaouk, this bitch was going to have to do it herself.
If you find yourself out of luck, like me, and your proximity to Boustan is limited, give this recipe a try, it brought me as close to the real deal as possible.
What you’ll need:
- Chicken breasts
- Some soft white or whole wheat pita (the thin kind)
- Some chopped tomatoes
- Some thinly sliced red onion
- Iceberg lettuce (iceberg is crucial)
- Some sauce (tzatziki or garlic mayo is best)
- Lemon juice
- Paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander
Chop the chicken into cubes, marinate the chicken cubes in the juice of a lemon, and a generous heaped teaspoon of the paprika, cumin and coriander, add salt and pepper. Allow the chicken to marinate for a few hours at least.
Using a griddle pan, a George Foreman type grill or under a broiler, grill the chicken until its cooked through (it’s nice if it gets a bit charred). Assemble the chicken, the sauce and all the fixings in your pita and wrap in some parchment paper or foil. If possible, grill again.
I’ll NEVER eat a kebab.