Out of the 2 tours I am doing with the twins in the afternoon, there is one going through Holland Park and High Street Kensington. Sometimes, I take the opportunity to go to the Waitrose that is just across the road when you finish your walk in Holland Park.
That’s how I discovered a small Lebanese shop situated across the road when you take the Earl’s Court Exit. The shop is called Alia and does not look like any of those well known Lebanese restaurants such as Maroush or Le Comptoir Libanais. Indeed it’s a very small and narrow shop that you would not even notice when passing by!
When you enter the shop, the manager at the till barely notice you as he is absorbed by the TV hanging on the other side of the shop… and as it’s a very small space, the shop is almost all yours if you came with your (twin) pushchair that has to stay by the entrance!
Originally, you are coming just because you forgot the houmous at Waitrose and don’t have the energy to run across the shop and wait another 10 minutes at the till with screaming baby(ies)….
But as soon as you look at the stalls, you regret your shopping at Waitrose because there is no space left in your pushchair nor in your bag. Even your baby(ies) has(ve) a salad bag or a pack of bread on his (their) lap!
Any way you can’t resist…. you will come back for the Pomegranate Molasse, the Za’atar, the Tahine but you can’t leave without trying that creamy Moutabal, the fresh Tabouleh, the perfectly shaped Falafels and Kibbehs as well as the fresh Lebanese bread that is much better than the Pita you are buying in any shops!
And what about that vegetables salad with fresh tomato sauce and that dip that look like a beetroot puree with crunchy bites in it? Let’s try it as well….! There you are…. A little mountain of boxes separates you from the guy at the till, you are smiling like a kid opening a huge gift for his birthday and even if you struggle on your way back home with all your bags, it does not matter! You have enough food to launch a party even if it’s just the two of you for dinner! And what a dinner…. Your husband will end up lying on the sofa, feeling like a nabob at the end of a sumptuous dinner!
Alia is now one of my favorite address for Lebanese Mezze in London and the guy at the till even became friendly especially with the twins! When I went there last week, I asked him if he had any yogurt dip for the Lebanese Chicken Skewers I was preparing for dinner but he didn’t. Instead, he sold me a pack of Labneh which is the Lebanese version of the thick and creamy Greek Yogurt. That’s how I had the idea to make my own interpretation of the Tzatziki….
Courgettes & Lemon Labneh
Ingredients for the Labneh
- 2 serving spoons of Labneh
- 1 lemon unwaxed and washed
- 1-2 small courgettes washed
- salt & pepper freshly ground
- 7 spices or freshly ground cumin
- fresh herbs (coriander, flat parsley, mint, chives…)
- olive oil
In a bowl, pour two large spoons of Labneh and whisk it until it gets smooth.
On top of it, grate the lemon zest and the courgettes with the skin on. Add the juice of the &@lemon and season with the salt, pepper and spices of your choice. Drizzle a little olive oil as well.
If the mix is too liquid because of the lemon juice, add some more Labneh until you get the right creamy consistency.
Just before serving, you can add some fresh herbs and pour the mix in a nice bowl.
For the presentation, you can drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle some of the remaining fresh herbs on top.
Serve it with Carrots or Pepper Sticks, Felafels, Sliced Lebanese Bread or Meat Skewers.