Felicity Glover has long been a fan of the humble falafel but finding the perfect one has been a journey of discovery.
I think it’s safe to say that falafel is one of my favourite snacks and has been for a very long time. I sampled my first falafel as a teenager in the inner-city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney, where a couple of Lebanese restaurants had popped up and quickly established themselves as the only places to get your fix of Middle Eastern food.
From late-night shawarmas on the run to a sit-down feast featuring creamy, garlicky hummus, tabbouleh, kebbe and a variety of tender grilled meats and other delicacies, it was here that I had my first taste of the humble falafel.
Golden and crunchy on the outside and a light and fluffy chickpea paste on the inside, it was a taste revelation to my palate. It was delicious dipped in tahini, hummus and even smoky moutabel. From that moment on, my falafel quest began.
It has taken me from Australia to the Middle East, the UK and Europe, and many more places in between. And I have to say that the best I’ve ever tried has been here in Oman, in a small restaurant overlooking the beach at Shatti. But the next time I went back specifically to order their falafel again, I left disappointed. They were overcooked and dry but certainly not as bad as the ones I’ve tried in Europe!
But that’s the thing about your favourite food: it can be divine one day, and the next it can be a disaster – at least that’s what I’ve discovered during my more than two-decade-long falafel quest.
And so it was that my daughter Cia and I found ourselves in Oman Avenues Mall recently and stumbled across Falafel & More. It was mid-afternoon and we’d not yet had lunch.
We wanted something quick and tasty but not something that was junk food – sometimes a hard ask in a food hall in a mall. It goes without saying that we – sorry, I – decided we should try it.
For some bizarre reason, Cia’s not a fan of falafel but that could be because it’s meat-free and is filled with creamy chickpeas, something she’s not a fan of.
At first, she thought all we could order was falafel, and wanted to head elsewhere. However, Falafel & More is as its name suggests: it offers a range of other delicious meals such as shawarmas, salads, grilled meats, sambouseks, and pitas stuffed with a range of different ingredients such as spicy feta cheese, and desserts. Halawa and banana pita with chocolate sauce, anyone?
The hardest part was choosing what to order, but our friendly server was very helpful, making suggestions as well as informing us that there was a special lunch box menu available for just RO2.95. Cia and I decided to order off the regular menu.
I was in seventh heaven, having quite a few choices of different falafel dishes to choose from, such as the Lebanese falafel, which came with tahini sauce, chopped parsley, mint, pickled turnip and tomato on a flat bread.
Then there was the special falafel, which came with tahini, a citrus cabbage salsa and a choice of pomegranate balsamic salsa or a walnut lemon chilli salsa. There was also a falafel burger and even falafel pops (12 mini falafels) as a starter.
But I wanted to start at the beginning. After all, it was possible that this could be my go-to place for my falafel fix! I ended up choosing the Lebanese falafel, but as a flat-bread sandwich.
Cia, on the other hand, travelled her predictable route and opted for the chicken taouk – tender morsels of grilled chicken nestled on a bed of French fries, pickles and garlic sauce. She also added a drink and French fries to her order while I went for my usual bottle of water.
On being informed our order would take 10 minutes, we headed out to look for a table in a quiet nook of the food court. Time up, I returned to pick up our order, which was already waiting for us, and headed back to Cia.
As we unwrapped our flat-bread sandwiches, a delicious aroma emerged – of warm, freshly cooked falafels and mildly spiced chicken. The signs were looking good.
Cia immediately gave her taouk the thumbs up, saying the chicken was juicy and tender while the garlic sauce wasn’t overwhelming. Like a typical teenager, she poured ketchup over it and her favourite part, of course, was the French fries – on the sandwich and the extra side she’d ordered.
And my falafel sandwich? It was very good but not the best I’ve tried. The tangy pickle turnips gave the sandwich a nice zing while the tahini was smooth and creamy. The falafels were on the dry side – just – but the tahini did help to pull this back. The bread was fresh and the fresh tomato was also a welcome touch.
All in all, Falafel & More is a great option for a quick and tasty lunch on the run. Best of all, it’s not junk food, which means I’ll be back to sample the rest of their offerings.
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Food Court 2F, Oman Avenues Mall, Al Khuwair
Tel: 2206 0065
Lunch with drinks: RO3.675
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A great option for a tasty, budget-friendly meal on the run