Ever enjoy a restaurant dish so much that you order it again and again? And again? As in every single time you go to that restaurant?
While in suburban New York recently, I ate at Turquoise, a Turkish eatery in Larchmont that my father and stepmother head to most Friday nights. The owner doesn't bother taking their order anymore because they always get the same thing: an off-menu item my dad refers to as "secret chicken." It's essentially shredded marinated chicken served with yogurt, pita, and either couscous or bulgur. If you ask the owner for "secret chicken" and you're not my dad, he'll probably have no idea what you're talking about.
As a parallel story, when my husband and I were in grad school, Colin used to run across the street between classes to grab a chicken shawarma from Sabra Grill in Cambridge. He'd go so often, always ordering the same thing, that eventually the owner started calling him Chicken Shawarma. (As in, "Look! It's Chicken Shawarma.")
I'm guilty of ordering the paneer wrap at Tandoori Oven in Campbell, Calif. It's served with an addictive tamarind and mint chutney on the warmest, softest naan I've ever had. I ordered it about 6 times in a row, and then the 7th time I decided it was time to try something else. Big mistake. It's not that the new dish wasn't good -- it was fine -- but nothing could ever measure up to that wrap. Having learned my lesson, I'm waiting for the day I walk in there and the owner says, "Look! It's Paneer Wrap."
Back to Turquoise. The secret chicken was good, but it was the Jerusalem Salad that really whet my whistle. In fact, the tahini dressing is still in my head. If I lived in Larchmont, I'd order it every Friday night.
A very simple salad with vivid colors and Mediterranean flair, this is reason enough to keep a jar of tahini in the pantry. The salad is best served at room temperature the same day it is made.
3 bell peppers, different colors, stemmed, seeded, diced
1/2 English cucumber, seeded, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1 tomato, seeded, diced
Handful of fresh herbs (basil, dill, Italian parsley, mint, or a combination), minced
1 tablespoon tahini
1-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon hot tap water
Combine the vegetables and herbs in a large salad bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, and hot water. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, and serve immediately.