fried artichoke hearts with taratur sauce

We found this recipe—a flavorful local favorite—at al-Az, a casual but well-known restaurant in Damascus.

For the Taratur Sauce:
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup tahini (Middle Eastern sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tsp. chopped fresh parsley

For the Artichokes:

4 cups olive oil
8 hearts of steamed medium artichokes, halved if large
1/2 cup flour

Place garlic and salt in a mortar and grind to a paste with pestle. (Garlic can also be very finely chopped.) Transfer garlic paste to a bowl and add tahini. While stirring, drizzle in lemon juice. Thin to the consistency of a thick dip with up to 3 tbsp. water. Stir in 2 tsp. of the parsley.

Heat oil to 375° in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Dredge artichokes in flour, and shake off excess. When oil is hot (a toothpick dropped in oil will quickly turn dark brown when oil is ready), fry artichokes, a few at a time, turning occasionally, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Serve with taratur, garnished with remaining 1 tsp. parsley.

Serves 4.

From “Saveur” magazine, March 1997