Bridgeview's Al Bawadi features delightful Middle Eastern fare

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (WLS) -- Ramadan begins at sundown next Friday night, and for many in Chicago, that will mean a time of fasting during the day for the following month, eating only at night. One of the places that will get busy each night is Al Bawadi in southwest suburban Bridgeview, where one of their desserts is truly worth the trip.

Nearly every table has one, even after a big meal of kebabs. It's kanafeh, and at Al Bawadi Grill in Bridgeview, where some of the region's best Middle Eastern food is prepared, the ubiquitous dish is now made out in the dining room.

"Kanafeh is probably the number one Middle Eastern sweet that's out there," said Kalid Baste, one of the owners. "It's a sweet cheese topped with a phyllo dough.."

But oh, it's so much more than that. They begin with some melted butter, adding crushed phyllo dough, pressing it down and letting it rest. Then the farmer's cheese, a coarse-yet-soft combo that's not too salty. The cooks heat it over a low flame, checking on it constantly.

"Dough side down, to get that nice crunch on the bottom and give it enough time for that cheese for the heat to come through the cheese, melt it down slowly and at the end give it a nice flip," said Baste.

Once the bottom has browned, they'll flip it over to melt that cheese even more, then sweeten it up.

"Sugar syrup, which is used on just about every Mediterranean sweet there is," he said.

The final touch: a healthy shower of chopped pistachios. There are two sizes here - an individual, which feeds two to three, and a family version that feeds six to eight. Baste says during Ramadan, demand is through the roof.

"When it's made on-site like this, it's too hard to pass up," Baste said.

So here's some advice for you if you want to try the kanafeh: after May 26th, every day at sundown, they're going to be super busy, because everybody's coming in to break the fast during Ramadan; that lasts a month. My advice? Come during the day, have all the kanafeh to yourself.

In this week's Extra Course" the Hungry Hound talks about Al Bawadi's incomparable kebabs, which he says are a must before you try dessert.
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Al Bawadi's incomparable kebabs are a must before you try dessert.

Al Bawadi
7216 W 87th St, Bridgeview
(708) 599-1999
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