SITTING down to eat at lunchtime in the ancient marketplace of the Tunisian souk is such an assault on the senses: spicy food and charcoal smoke in the air, traditional music mingling with the voices of shoppers, the amazing colours of the goods on the stalls, the queue outside Gregg’s for sandwiches and sausage rolls…
OK, so it was just the mini souk that came to Sheffield for another stay of a few days on its tour around the country.
Tunisian market stalls on Fargate served the conical tagines used to make the dish of the same name, a range of spices, olives, stuffed vine leaves and other snacks, Turkish delight, sweet nuts and dried fruit and ‘pick your own’ baklava pastries.
There were two stalls selling hot food with a covered seating area between them so we bought a selection and enjoyed a little time people-watching.
One stall has a Turkish barbecue selling decidedly unauthentic hot dogs and lamb burgers, and it also offers chicken and potatoes at £3 a time. Its neighbour offers chicken and rice at £4 or £5 a portion.
We were sharing the food between five, so we bought one portion of the chicken and potatoes and a burger at £3 each, plus two £5 portions of chicken and rice. The large chicken and rice comes in a rectangular foil takeaway container and it’s a hefty offering.
Some of us, including me, thought the best dish was the chicken and potatoes, served with sweetish chilli mayonnaise-type sauce.
The rice dish was also popular, with its gentle spices, and the burger was a bit of a revelation: the meat had been mixed with spices and the onions were soft and sweet. Only the boring sesame seed bun let it down.
Sadly, there’s no-one selling mint tea or Turkish coffee, so I bought a selection of four baklava pastries.
You buy them by weight and four cost £4.80.
And they all disappeared pretty fast.
Address: Fargate, Sheffield. It’s due to visit again early next year.
Opening times: Usual shopping hours.
Parking: Fargate’s out of course but on-street parking and car parks nearby
Menu: A limited selection on the stalls.
What we had: Chicken with potatoes, chicken and rice, lamb burger, baklava pastries.
Price: Good value at £20.80 for five of us.
Verdict: Something different and well worth looking out for.