Chickpea fatteh is a traditional dish that is a great way to use up leftover pita, but really it's so much more. The simple combination of crisp pita chips, savory seasoned yogurt and chickpeas is a delicious mix of flavors and textures.
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Many cultures have developed dishes to use leftover, stale bread, such as Italian panzanella salad, Spanish garlic soup (with bread chunks in the soup) and brunch-y dishes like French toast and stratas.
This is another ingenious way to use up leftover bread, in this case generally pita or other similar flatbreads. It's easy, tasty and delicious, too.
What does fatteh mean?
"Fatteh" is Arabic for "crumbs" or "crumbled". This is pretty much the idea behind the dish, that you break up the bread and layer them up with toppings. You might also see the name transcribed as fette, fetté, fatta or fattah. The salad fattoush is also a variation on the same idea.
It's a dish that you'll find in a few different variations in Egypt and the Southern Levant region, including Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine.
The roots of the dish have been traced back to the 13th century, with this variation most likely from Damascus. Though that said, the exact origins are a little unclear, especially with variations around the region.
Different places use slightly different ingredients and might eat it at different times of the day. In Egypt, it's common for special occasions and feasts, such as part of iftar during Ramadan. In Lebanon, you might have it for breakfast or brunch, as well as in the evening.
This dish comes with many different variations, some with meat and others vegetarian. Some with more toppings and others simpler. It also is one of those dishes that can be considered more broadly - in Palestine, for example, you may see it considered a category to include dishes like musakhan, where sumac chicken is served over bread.
Pretty much all (apart from the likes of musakhan) involve crispy pita, seasoned savory yogurt and then some other kind of topping. Chickpea, eggplant and meats like ground lamb or shredded chicken are generally the most popular. You often add toasted nuts on top, too.
This chickpea version is one I love not just because it's tasty but because it's so wonderfully quick. Yes, it's a little better with home-cooked chickpeas. But even with canned it's a tasty mix of flavors and textures.
Make ahead tips
One of the great things about this dish is that you can prepare a lot of it in advance. You can make the toasted pita chips ahead of time and also add the seasonings to the yogurt. You can also toast the nuts for the topping.
However, you will want to wait to layer everything up until you are about to serve it. If you leave the yogurt on the pita too long, they will become soft which kind of takes away from the character of the dish.
Chickpea fatteh is a wonderfully easy and tasty dish. It has a great mix of flavors and textures, and is perfect to snack on, whatever time of day you choose to enjoy it. So be sure to enjoy it soon.
Try these other Middle Eastern dishes:
- Spinach fatayer (spinach pastries)
- Hummus kawarma (humnus topped with spiced ground lamb)
- Roasted eggplant with tahini
- Plus get more Middle Eastern recipes in the archives.
For pine nut topping
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon pine nuts
For pita chips
- 1 pita bread approx 75-80g, 2 if small
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or a little more, as needed
For rest of dish
- 1 cup plain yogurt 240ml
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 2 tablespoon water approx, or a little more as needed
- ⅔ cup chickpeas 110g
- 1 pinch paprika
- 1 pinch sumac optional, to top
- 1 stem parsley to garnish
- 2 mint leaves or a little more/less, to garnish
For pine nuts
- Warm the oil in a small skillet/frying pan over a medium heat and add the pine nuts. Cook for a couple minutes, turning as needed until they are browned but not burning. Keep a close eye on them as they can quickly turn from brown to burnt. Remove from the skillet and drain on kitchen paper. You can make these ahead, as suits.
For pita chips
- Preheat the oven to 350F/175C. Dice the pita bread into roughly 1in/2.5cm pieces. Place the pita on a baking sheet/tray (unlined) and drizzle over a little olive oil.
- Spread out the pita pieces and then bake for around 8 - 10 minutes until the pita pieces are crisp and gently browning. Remove from the oven and either allow to cool and store at room temperature until needed, or you can use straight away (both warm and room temperature work).
To build dish
- Mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, tahini, garlic and salt until well combined. Add some water, as needed, to make the mixture smooth and relatively fluid, but not too runny - just smooth enough that it will spread over the pita.
- Create a layer of pita chips on one of two plates (you can put all together and then share or have separate plates, as you prefer). Dot over a layer of the seasoned yogurt.
- Top the yogurt with the chickpeas and the toasted pine nuts. Sprinkle over some sumac and paprika. Roughly tear a few parsley and mint leaves, scatter these over the top then serve.