Syrian street food No fancy frills are required when the flavours and freshness are this good
TONIGHT it’s quite clear that all the young dudes are carrying the news but exactly what language it’s in I can’t quite make out. I’ll only be told that when I eventually make it to the long, low metaltopped counter through a sardine can of sprawling, leaning, chatting, arm-on-eachother’s-shoulders customers.
Then while ordering I’ll ask the man where all these people are originally from and he’ll say mainly Syria, but all over really, and they’re talking Arabic.
Ours will be a brief conversation because he’s busy and because all the time I am being gently pushed, slightly bumped, harmlessly nudged back down the counter by the surge of clippered-side-shed hairstyles with gelled-back quiffs.
My slow journey there had been enhanced though, by watching pirouetting chickens dance, bubble and brown on burners so hot I can feel them pleasantly toast my face on this bitterly cold November night.
It’s not what I came in for but I have to have me some of that chicken. Served with salad, the famous muhammara sauce from Aleppo, saj bread and rice please.
“At least 20 minutes till they’re ready, mate,” says the man, switching to Glaswegian. I shake my head at the prospect of another wait and order instead the Arabic shawarma wrap at just over £6. What I don’t realise is that all the young dudes haven’t got their food yet and by the time they’ve got theirs and I’ve got mine that rotisserie chicken will be completely ready. So I will have one of them too.
Now. Of all the wonderful things that immigrants bring and have brought and will hopefully continue to bring to this city over the years, their food has surely got to rank super-high up there. Look about. It’s everywhere.
And when you can step off a pavement in downtown Glasgow, just round the corner from St Enoch Square, and culturally anyway you’ve stumbled into Syria from a better time and it’s going like a fair, well, it livens up an otherwise dull Tuesday night, doesn’t it?
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: a shawarma? I thought that too. Until I got mine. Juicy chicken straight from the grill, chopped, doused in sauce, wrapped tightly in the flatbread they make freshly themselves in here; then the whole thing placed on another grill. And big old iron weights put on top of it. To flatten it down. To deliciously crisp up that flatbread.
It’s then sliced across the grain. Into surprisingly elegant finger-size bites. And served with Syrian garlic cream, more chilli sauce and those sour and salty pickles that they make themselves. Outstanding.
On those pickles, by the way: try the pickled Scottish turnip. Crikey, who knew?
Most dudes are having chips with their shawarmas tonight, but this dude’s having the buttery rice, full of cardamom flavour.
The surroundings at Lazord are less than dazzling but the Syrian food is the polar opposite, being carefully prepared and excellent value