This is my favourite salad, and it is Gazaweeyah (hailing from the Gaza Strip). In Arabic, it’s called دق, pronounced da’ah. I’m uncertain of the specific root of the word (maybe it is the root) because Arabic often times confuses me, but I do know one variation of it is mad’oo’, the closest in meaning is the English ‘pounded’ (“struck repeatedly with great force, as with an instrument”).
The Gazazwah may just be the most literal of folks, and so it should come as no surprise that in order for you to make da’ah you need a clay mortar & any material pestle. Clay here is key as it helps achieve the full flavour of this salad. For those who cook often, the composition and material of the containers affects the flavour of what you’re eating, and so the need for a clay mortar should come as no surprise. For those of you who don’t cook often…now you know.
Here’s my clar mortar (Thomasina) and wooden pestle (Bob):
Super Duper Important! Before you place the salad inside the mortar, the clay can’t be thirsty any more, or else it drinks all of the yummy salad juice. (Thomasina is greedy this way.) For this reason and before you start chopping, you need to fill the clay mortar with water and let it sit for about ten minutes.
This Is What You’re Pounding
1 small onion super finely (& seriously) chopped
1/2 tsp normal salt
2 large overflowing gigantic tablespoons of dill seeds that look like this:
1 full super hot long green pepper of this variety, image courtesy of Pepper Schlepper. You need to take out all of the seeds and then finely chop the rest – da’ah has to burn your throat and so if this pepper doesn’t make you cry then thou shalt chuck it and buy another, please.
5 large juicy tomatoes super finely (& seriously) chopped
juice from 1/2 fresh lemon
5 or 6 tablespoons olive oil, which is such an odd thing for any Middle Easterner to ‘measure’ because we don’t ‘measure’ olive oil, but rather pour. This because in verse 29, sura 12 of the Quran, God says: ‘Just pour it, the Olive Oil. Yalla.’
‘The How To’ Being The Funnest Part
Only after the clay mortar has had it’s fill of water, you throw in the dill seeds, the onion, the salt, the pepper, the lemon juice and you pound. Really, you pound, you grind, you take out all of your frustration on the wee mixture of food. Make it as much of a mush as possible.
Those of the sneaky variety may wish to forego the mortar and pestle and throw everything into a food processor. THE FLAVOUR WON’T BE THE SAME and then you can’t even call it a da’ah, the key here being ‘you pound the salad into being’ and not ‘you food processor the salad into being’.
Right. So as you’re pounding, think lovely thoughts about your family and friends. Enjoy the moment before you eat some da’ah and cry like a wee child because of the pepper.
As soon as the mixture looks mushy enough, then you add the tomatoes and pound some more! Awesome, I know.
Just make sure that you’re not making a mess of your shirt, because you’re making a salad and not running with the bulls. Now’s not the time to be shy; the mixture is enjoying the pounding. Put all of your weight and force behind it pretending that it’s someone whose wronged you or someone you love…it’ll look like this within a couple of minutes:
When you think you’re done the pounding, pour on all of the olive oil (and more, if you wish) and serve up as is in the mortar! Da’ah is a yummy sloppy salad and each bite is to be scooped up with a piece of pita bread and dripping with hot pepper and olive oil.
Sa7teen w hanna! Good health and happiness!