Cuisine: Middle Eastern
5676 Emporium Square (Columbus Square Shopping Center)
There are lots of ethnic markets in Columbus that offer far more than you might guess from first glance: Arirang, Mecca and Salam, just to name a few. Salam is a wonderfully organized, clean grocery store where you can stock up on dates, olives and spices, but it is also a halal butcher (and the first place I have seen lamb tongues) and a bakery. We had heard rumors about the meat pies at Salam and were determined to try them. Our first attempt was unsuccessful and we learned the hard way that they sell out by lunchtime. Our perseverance paid off: These pies are seriously good.
Our early start was rewarded with a choice of six pies (three vegetarian and three meat): cheese, chicken, spicy kebab meat, zatar, falafel and a larger chicken pie. The regular pies were $1.50 each and the larger chicken pie was $1.99. The pies, which of course reminded me of Cornish pasties. were made from pita dough made fresh that morning.
We chose the cheese, chicken and kebab options, all still warm from the oven. The gooey cheese (possibly halloumi – we didn’t ask) was buttery and salty and fairly mild flavor-wise. It would be good with some chutney or hot sauce. The chicken and the kebab were chunky tomato and onion based sauces with meat. The kebab (of the ground and seasoned meat variety) had some chili heat and the chicken was milder but fragrant with cardamom. The bread was light and soft and it wasn’t hard to see why these sell out quickly.
The open kitchen means that you can watch them making pita bread (they supply restaurants such as Jeddo Kebab and Lavash). The dough is mixed and kneaded, divided into balls, rolled into rounds and left to rise before it is baked. The guy in the red cap is taking hot pita breads out of the oven.
The pies were not labelled but the staff were friendly and happy to explain the fillings and prices, and let us watch what they were doing. As well as buying our pies we also explored the stores and found these interesting green almonds, a Middle Eastern spring time snack.