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10 of the best dishes to try in Lakemba during Ramadan food fest

Photos of various Arab dishes from Lakemba, Australia Source: SBS Arabic24

From coffee to camel burgers, here's our pick of the best dishes on offer during the Ramadan food festival.

During Ramadan, Haldon Street in Lakemba turns into a festive feast.

Once the sun sets, Lakemba becomes a hive of food stalls. Hundreds of people gather, usually after Iftar -- the meal Muslims break their daylight fast with -- to enjoy the food market and the Ramadan vibes which runs all night until dawn. 

Then, the festive night market ends with the Suhoor -- the meal Muslims have in the early hours of the morning before they start another day of fasting. It is like an early breakfast.

Lakemba, Haldon street (Ramadan)
Haldon street in Lakemba during Ramadan.
SBS Arabic24

Ramadan has a special significance to Muslims and it is described as the Holy Month, for in this month the Quran (the Holy Book) was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad.

Muslims fast from dawn to sunset and during the fasting period no food or water is consumed, so you can only imagine how important it is to eat a healthy and delicious meal when the time for breaking the fast finally arrives!

The SBS Arabic team has visited Lakemba many times already this year, and here are our ten must-try Middle Eastern dishes. (We're not sure how we dwindled it down to just ten either).

Shawarma
chicken shawarma on spit
Chicken shawarma on spit
SBS Arabic24

This is a must-have during your visit. You can have chicken or lamb, and both are grilled on a spit and slow cooked for a few hours.

The chicken shawarma is served in Lebanese bread with garlic paste and pickles, and the meat shawarma is served in Lebanese bread with Tahini sauce, parsley, onions and a sprinkle of Summac.

In Lakemba, there are many shops that offer shawarma, but we recommend Albaik (ask to have it in saj bread), or Al Fayha --- where the stall-holder calls himself "the father of the poor" because of his $5 sandwiches.

Camel Burgers
Camel burgers
Camel burgers
SBS Arabic24

Camel burgers?! That was our reaction the first time we visited Lakemba and saw people lining up to buy them. It turns out that camel burgers are famous in some parts of the Gulf area like Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. And after just one bite, you'll see why. 

The taste is similar to that of veal, and it’s tender and juicy.

You’ll find them at the very centre of Haldon St at Broadster Chicken for $10.

Brisket
brisket, lakemba
Abou Ahmad cuts the brisket
SBS Arabic24

A new addition to this year’s Ramadan food festival is ZSmokin’Arabs. Abou Ahmad prepares the brisket himself, and he told SBS Arabic 24, that he slow cooks it for almost 12 hours.

This is the most expensive dish you’ll find on the street, and although it's not quite Middle Eastern, the taste is definitely worth it.

One brisket box is $20.

Kaak
Kaak on charcoal barbecue lakemba
Kaak on charcoal barbecue
SBS Arabic24

Kaak is Lebanese street bread, and what makes it special is the sesame on top. Some people have kaak plain and others prefer it toasted with cheese and sumac.

There are different stalls in the street, and all serve delicious kaak for $5.

Balila
Balila lakemba
Balila
SBS Arabic24

If you are a fan of Hummus then this the right dish for you. Balila is made of boiled chickpeas mixed with garlic, salt, cumin and olive oil. It is a traditional Ramadan dish.

The dish is for $5 and is found throughout the street.

Time for some sweets!

Syrian ice-cream
Ice cream lakemba
Ice cream coated with pistachio
SBS Arabic24

You can’t pass by Lakemba and not try this mouthwatering ice-cream. It is prepared by pounding frozen cream and other ingredients like mastic gum and is garnished with ground pistachio.

The bikdash icecream is $5.

Palestininan knafe
Knafeh lakemba
Palestinian Knafeh or sweet cheese pastry
SBS Arabic24

Knafe or sweet cheese pastry is a popular dessert throughout the Levant. Each country has its own version, but no matter where you get it, you’ll always come back for more!

Al Andalus coffee shop in Haldon St prepares 2 types of Palestinian knafe: naeme (fine) and kheshne (coarse). The difference between them is the flakes on top.

Sahlab
Sahlab  lakemba
Sahlab in brass containers
SBS Arabic24

This is a popular Middle Eastern hot drink and it’s made from milk, cornstarch, sugar and rose water and garnished with grounded cinnamon. It’s a heavy drink and very popular during Ramadan. Some people have it with Lebanese kaak.

There are different stalls that sell it for $5.

Mushabbak

ramadan night markets
Mushabbak
SBS Arabic24

There are different ways to do Mushabbak, but the one you find in Lakemba is the authentic Syrian way of preparing it. It is made from semolina, hot water, yogurt, milk and sugar syrup, and deep fried in hot oil.

Mushabbak is crunchy on the outside and has a soft syrup-soaked centre.

Ibrahim and his father sell this dessert for $5.

Lebanese coffee
coffee lakemba
Lebanese coffee
SBS Arabic24

If you’ve ever visited a Lebanese or Arab home, you would have surely tried this, or at least been asked if you’d like some! Lebanese coffee or kahwa is similar to Turkish coffee, and it is as strong or even stronger than espresso. It is made with cardamom seed.

There are many stalls that sell coffee but our personal favourite is Ahmad who sells it for $3. We also highly recommend Afandi coffee, where he prepares it using heated sand for $5.

The Lakemba street markets are held from 5pm till 3am  until June 6. Ramadan Kareem!

 

Check out other food offered during Ramadan in Lakemba

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