Bread in Hand, Take a Dip

By D. J. Costantino & Will Blunt

By

D. J. Costantino & Will Blunt
The spread at Maydan
The spread at Maydan

Washington, D.C. Chefs Chris Morgan and Gerald Addison made an epic sojourn through Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Georgia, Turkey, Armenia, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East before opening Maydān with Restaurateur Rose Previte in late 2017. Every day at 3 pm, using old menus as kindling, one of the chefs lights the custom-built hearth at the center of the dining room. By 5:30 pm, fires are crackling, the dining room is popping, and every table is a Tetris of dishes and their accouterment. When semi-charred, still steaming flatbreads land in front of guests, it’s time to break bread and dive in. 

FLATBREAD
Maydān’s bread is an amalgamation of the many variants of flatbread the chefs experienced during their travels and is most similar to Iraqi laffa. The 50 percent whole wheat, vegan dough is slapped onto the interior wall of a 1,100°F tone oven (think Georgian-style tandoor) where it cooks in one minute. The team cranks out more than 400 pieces a night. Using a traditional, Western source of heat (a Rational combi oven), Maydān’s roast chicken is served in a flatbread nest that soaks up all the fatty juices and turmeric-coriander-garlic seasoning. “If I could serve just that bread, I would,” says Morgan.

TEHAN (Get the recipe here)
For this Moroccan dish, Morgan, and Addison break down whole goats and grind the parts (especially offal) with chicken liver for added richness. Seasoned with coriander, Aleppo and black peppers, turmeric, garlic, and onion, the mixture hits a screaming-hot cast iron skillet directly over coals. It’s finished with harissa, lemon, and olive oil and rested near the fire to pick up some residual smoke. Scoop it up with more bread.

CHERMOULA SHRIMP
Shrimp are skewered and marinated in chermoula, a North African sort-of chimichurri built with saffron, turmeric, paprika, cilantro, parsley, coriander, and Aleppo pepper. The sauced-up shrimp skewers cook on the seafood-vegetable section of the live fire with grill grates that are thinner and wider than the meat counterpart. “You get more smoke and flame contact,” says Morgan. “It works like a sauté station.”

DIP, DUNK, DEVOUR
Toum: Maydān’s version of this garlic purée is a cross between Lebanese and Syrian preparations made with a neutral oil, garlic, lemon, and egg white for a pillowy texture.
Harissa: This one is made with loads of fresh and dry cumin.
Zhoug: A Yemeni hot sauce built on the foundations of cilantro, parsley, serranos, and cumin.
Moroccan tomato jam: The principal flavors are tomato, cinnamon, and sesame.
Ezmay: A Turkish salsa of shishitos, tomatoes, red onion, pomegranate molasses, Sherry, sumac, and Aleppo pepper.
Borani: At Maydān, this Iranian yogurt condiment is made with black sesame, dill, garlic, and beets for a vibrant magenta pop.
Muhammara: A common Levantine dip, here made with walnuts, red peppers, pomegranate, and garlic.
Beiruti Hummus: A chunky chickpea purée studded with a salsa of shishito peppers, green onions, and tomato and finished with dry sumac and olive oil. It’s a bit of a misnomer as it’s most common in Armenia, not Lebanon.

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