Sultan Kebab & Bakery's fresh food blends Palestinian, Turkish roots

NORRIDGE, Ill. (WLS) -- It's kind of appropriate Norridge is only about a mile from O'Hare, because this little community on the Northwest Side is a literal United Nations of eating.

Up and down Cumberland Avenue you'll spot Italian, Russian and Middle Eastern restaurants to name a few. The latter is well-represented in a strip mall, of course, where the team at Sultan Kebab & Bakery proudly cooks from their Turkish and Palestinian roots.

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Take a taste of their baklava and harissa, which go exceedingly well with a bracing coffee or minted tea.

Fayez Barawi cooks from two perspectives. He was raised Palestinian, but one of his grandmothers was Turkish, and those two cultures certainly influence the menu at Sultan Kebab & Bakery.

Over the past four years, they've quietly established themselves in the neighborhood by simply buying high-quality beef, chicken and lamb, marinating them in spices like paprika, pepper and cumin, and then grilling them to order.

"We have beef kebab, which is very nice and very tender and juicy and we have chicken kebab. We do have kefta kebab, which is ground beef with lamb and vegetables like parsley and onion and garlic. Also I added pieces of lamb kebab," said Barawi.

The shawarma, or doner if you're from Turkey, is assembled in-house every day.

"Every day we bring the chickens. We have the chef slicing it. We marinate it overnight. The second day he comes, he puts it together as a skewers and it's actually very fresh," Barawi said.

Other Turkish influences include the Adana kebab, which is ground lamb or beef pressed around long skewers, then grilled.

But there are many more Middle Eastern dishes on the menu, such as stuffed grape leaves, creamy hummus and chunky baba gannoush. There is smoked and grilled eggplant spread accented with a touch of chili sauce and then pinches of paprika around the perimeter, with a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Falafel is another vegetarian favorite where chickpeas, garlic and parsley are formed over a falafel spoon, then fried to-order and served with creamy smooth tahini sauce.

Barawi says the key to their falafel is how frequently they make it.

"Because of the freshness. Because of the fresh vegetables we use, and we don't make falafel for five days, we make it every other day," Barawi said.
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