The Prophet

The Prophet is a Victoria Park institution and one of the few notable Lebanese restaurants in the city that do something other than kebabs. Jihad Moussallem has been serving up free bread with his own secret recipe garlic sauce and pickled vegetables for longer than Iíve been around, and one day I’m going to find out how and make millions.

The only thing that changes on the menu are the prices, which are still stubbornly set in the 90s. Their hummus is some of the freshest and most beautifully presented I’ve seen, and what the menu lacks in excitement it makes up for in consistency. The shish tawook (garlic chicken skewer) is a staple and the loubiah beans rich and hearty. Traditional kibbeh (raw minced lamb and bulgur) may be an acquired taste, but the baklava and Lebanese coffee to finish will win anyone over.

Every time I drive past The Prophet I feel a little bad about not frequenting it more often, and then I get a glimpse inside and see the place heaving on a Tuesday night with happy diners making the most of the delicious and cheap food and those three all important letter B-Y-O. There’s always a buzz about the place, to the point where you can never guarantee you’re going to get a seat on any given night of the week.

If you haven’t been yet, go say hi soon.

The Prophet
907 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park, 6101
Tel: (08) 9361 1101

The Prophet menuGarlic dip and pickled veges @ The ProphetThe ProphetSchmear @ The ProphetHommus @ The ProphetFool beans @ The Prophetgrilled fish @ The ProphetShish Kebab @ The Prophet2004 Witchmount ShirazLebanese breadThe ProphetLebanese Coffee pot @The ProphetLebanese Coffee Pour @The ProphetLebanese Coffee @ The Prophet

How to make Turkish Coffee

Shower

Well after a short lived foray into tea, it’s back to the tried and true original, coffee. Something a little different to my usual home barista shenanigans this time though. In the past, much of my efforts have been focused on preparing and perfecting espresso and milk based drinks. To the extent that I think I’ve been remiss in my attention to other forms of preparing coffee that are equally as rewarding. It’s easy to get excited about a perfect ristretto pour dripping like honey into your cup… but I’ve discovered recently that you can do just fine with nothing more sophisticated than a pot of hot water.

Enter Turkish coffee. Or Lebanese coffee, or Greek Coffee, or Arabic Coffee, or Armenian coffee… they’re all roughly similar, and I’m just using Turkish because it’s perhaps the best known. Long before Mr Gaggia pulled together the first modern espresso machine circa 1938, those crazy Ottomans (the people, not the foot rests), were hanging around the worlds first coffee shop in downtown Constantinople circa 1475… in fact Turkish law at that time made it legal for a woman to divorce her husband if he failed to provide her with her daily quota of coffee. Which is fair enough really.

So in a country (Australia) where some major cities have an espresso machine in every other laundromat, there’s a tendency to forget about the ways that millions of other people around the world appreciate coffee every day. Hence I present in it’s complex simplicity, my attempt at brewing Turkish coffee.

Let me just say right now that I am no expert at this. I’ve based my method on what I’ve gleaned from other websites, from talking to people, and from drinking variations of this in restaurants and cafes. I will not be offended if you completely disagree with me… much.

How I make mine

So to start with you need a couple of things. An Ibrik (or cezve), a grinder, and some coffee.

An ibrik (eee-brick) is a small pot, often made of copper or brass, that is used to boil coffee. The one I bought is a little fancier than the tradition sort, with a solid stainless steel base and a moulded handle… which hopefully doesn’t disqualify me in the authenticity stakes. You should be able to find them in middle eastern supply stores.

The grind is the next most important thing. Turkish coffee is the finest of all grind levels, and basically resembles dust. You can buy special Turkish coffee mills that will give you a really fine grind, or else you could try a mortar and pestle. I use my espresso grinder on it’s lowest possible setting… 4 stops below my normal espresso level, which gives me coffee so fine I can barely see it.

Turkish coffee is typically drunk out of small cups. Thimble sized ones sometimes. I use my Chinese tea cups, which seem to give a decent portion in each pour. To work out how much water you need in the ibrik, try using roughly one teaspoon of ground coffee per cupful of water. So to make 6 cups, measure 6 cups of water into the ibrik, and add 6 teaspoons of coffee.

Measure Grind Dose Shower Spice Stir HeatBoil

View the pictoral guide by click the images above, or by going to my flickr site for some more details

There’s an old saying that goes:

Coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and as sweet as love.

If this isn’t talking about Turkish coffee then I don’t know what is. The fineness of the grind, when incorporated into water, creates a thick solution reminiscent of mud when you get down to the bottom. Sugar is also commonly added at the start of the brewing process, rather than at the end, which would account for the sweetness. I’d add about a third as many teaspoons of sugar as the number of cups… So 2 teaspoons of sugar for 6 cups…

If you want to be extra fancy/authentic (like I did), you can also add a pinch or two of ground cardamom at this stage. It gives the coffee a wonder flavour that is distinct yet not overpowering (given you don’t add too much), that seems to be popular.

Once you’ve combined all the ingredients and stirred well so that it’s all mostly dissolved, then it’s time for the cooking. Put the ibrik onto the heat (a gas burner in my case), and over a moderate flame, heat it til it starts to bubble up and boil. Once its beginning to boil, remove it from the heat before it can overflow the ibrik… It’s important to keep a close watch on the boiling because things can get out of control in a hurry.

Once the first boil settles down, put the ibrik back over a low heat and bring it back to the boil… again stopping before it overflows. Repeat this process a final time, and you’re done. It’s apparently quite important to try and retain as much of the thick foam as possible while boiling. I think I’m a long way off perfecting it, but the flavour in the cup at the end is definitely to my liking, so I think I’m on the right track.

So now pour the coffee out into small espresso / chinese tea sized cups and sip away at the thick sweet spiced flavours, and feel it warming you from the inside out. Traditionally it’s drunk with a cup of water and perhaps a little glass of mint liqueur at the end of a meal, which sounds like a good excuse for me to try and construct a Turkish dinner menu sometime soon.

Lebanese Cardamom CoffeeLebanese Cardamom Coffee

So next time you’re kicking yourself over bitter espresso and woeful attempts at latte art, just grab the nearest pot and give this method a shot. 71 millions Ottomans can’t all be wrong :)

The Prophet

No, im not referring to myself… (bom! bom!). The Prophet is a great little Lebanese restaurant in Victoria Park that i used to frequent when i lived in area.

The Prophet is a nice cosy restaurant near the Balmoral Hotel in Victoria Park, it’s run by a cool old guy called Jihad who makes his own garlic dipping sauce from a secret recipe. You get a bowl of it along with some flat bread and pickled beetroot (i think, it could be anything?) free with every meal… it’s a really tasty way to start… the garlic dip is strangely moreish and tastes best when you dip the pickled beetroot into it and then wrap this little package with the flat bread.

In terms of the menu itself, there’s a whole range of traditional Lebanese foods, and some more western oriented ones. For the die hards there is a Lamb Kibbeh (raw minced meat in a ball with wheat and spices), and for the light weights, theres the Shish Tawook (garlic chicken shish kebabs). Most meals are served with chips and a tangy salad (kind of similar to a Greek salad, but without feta and olives). There is also a few other lamb dishes, and a ‘hot’ fish dish, basically a whole fish with scarily hot chillli sauce over it.

There is no wine list as it’s completely byo, but if i recall correctly they dont charge for corkage. The meals aren’t what you’d call fine dining…they’re simply presented but quite filling (especially when you’ve eaten a stack of flat bread to start with), and are really cheap. Most meals range from $14 – $20. I think last time i went the bill for two of us came to $28, very low in my book, and for what you get, amazing value.

As always, check it out for yourself :)

The Prophet
907 Albany Highway
East Victoria Park, 6101
Tel: (08) 9361 1101

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