Toum is a garlic sauce, or, more accurately, a garlic cream. Not very attractive to vampires and the garlic haters out there, but it is an exquisite, smooth, silky garlic cream that fast becomes an addiction.
Semsemyieh is a typical souk dessert, made of toasted sesame seeds and ground almonds set in a sweet syrup, though it could also be made from chopped cashews, or all almonds, or pistachios.
Hummus is the definite non-home food—even if you find it often in home-cooked meals. A good restaurant is measured to the quality of its hummus, and hummus in the old days used to be bought at the souk fawwal only.
Another take on the fatteh is this one, with deep-fried eggplant.
Foul means “fava beans” and is the name of the green fava (foul akhdar), the dried beans, and the dish itself. Foul medamass (seasoned fava) is somewhere between a salad and a stew.
Tarator is not a dish, but rather a very versatile sauce. It is the definite sauce for falafel and shawarma and also goes well with baked fish, deep-fried cauliflower, or simple boiled potatoes (with a bit of parsley on top).
There is always space to argue about variations on dishes, and so it is true with falafel too! Where is it from? Where is the best one? How should it be made? I’ll stop on this last issue!
Moutabal, otherwise known as baba ghanouj, or France’s caviar d’aubergine (eggplant caviar), must definitely figure in the top 10 of the best foods in the world!
Fatteh is typical souk food, mainly of the souks of Damascus. Already prepared ingredients are mixed at the last minute and served immediately—cooked chickpeas, yogurt, grilled bread, and traditionally browned butter or ghee drizzled on top. A fatteh must be served and eaten quickly, before the grilled bread gets soggy from the yogurt.