Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Ranoush Kebab

You know those crunchy, tasty brown bits you get when you roast lamb? How they always seem so little when compared with the rest of the roast - it's almost like we make do with the soft succulent pink interior because of the tasty brown bit shortage.

Walking past Ranoush Juice, the lure of the Shawerma kebab called me. I fought it off, but when I saw what was on the vertical rotisserie my tastebuds got the better of me: an entire chunk of rotating crunchy brown bits. I waited patiently while the cashier answered the phone - another belligerant Middle Eastern man with thick black eyebrows. He spoke angrily in Arabic down the phone, then looked at me and made the smallest of gestures with his index finger: I knew what to do.

"Lamb shawerma, please."

He continued the conversation, now sounding mollified but still with a thin edge of violence. I imagined that he was organising the next White Slave auction in Yemen. I paid my £3 and the woman behind me also got the look and gesture, but she had a question so he was forced to stop his conversation and attend to her.

One of the chefs daintily patted the viscous hommous down in the cold tray while I waited for the other to make my kebab. He laid down a small piece of khobez bread, a streak of tahini/garlic sauce, two slices of tomato, a long slice of pickled cucumber and some onion. He shaved the lamb, removing the maximum of crunchy brown bits to reveal pink succulence underneath.

Biting into my kebab rewarded me with juicy pieces of lamb fringed with crispy tasty edges. The meat was marinated with a complex but subtle spice mixture perfuming each mouthful. I'm not used to deconvoluting Middle Eastern spicing so I can only guess at what was present. I detected sumac and cardamon, but also something vaguely floral, rosewater perhaps, although that seems far too delicate for the roasting process.

The way the lamb chunks are speared onto the rotisserie means that all those edges get to go brown and crisp unlike a whole leg of lamb. You can only get lamb and chicken kebabs on Edgeware Rd, unlike the beef ones in Canberra. Mind you, those were never worth getting because Ali Baba only ever used low-grade minced beef.

Ranoush Juice is part of the ubiquitous Maroush restaurant enterprise. The Ranoushes seem to be the caf├ęs and casual affairs whilst Maroushes are sit down restaurants with varying degrees of poshness. These 'oushes are not to be confused with the Fatoush chain (which incidentally is a kind of Arabic salad) that are competitors along with Al-Dar who have three restaurants.

I don't think you can find a tastier hot meat roll for £3 in London.


David said...

I have deleted a comment made that has no relevance to this post on Ranoush Kebab. If the poster is reading this, please refrain from using my blog as your soapbox.

If you have something to say, write your own blog - if I support you, I will link to it.

Sam said...

mmmm.... crispy bits.

David said...

I had another one the other day. I ate at the restaurant and a bit of juice dribbled out the bottom of the paper wrapping. I finished the kebab and went to clean it up, but it had congealed into a pearlescent solid.

mmmm.... Lamb Fat