[Los Cristianos, Tenerife] Habibi

This was the third Middle Eastern restaurant that we’d visited during the holidays. Overlooking Las Vistas beach, it’s always popular and has a nice buzz to it, even if the flavours are not always the most traditional for that part of the world.

As we would at a Lebanese restaurant at home, we ordered a few starters to share. Moutabal was excellent with a smoky backnote to the aubergine puree. Fattoush was a nicely balanced salad with the crunch from cucumber and the shards of crisp bread contrasting nicely with the soft dip. Falafel divided us. I thought they were fine, if a little dense but my companion in life wasn’t that keen – something indeterminate in the spicing hadn’t worked. The starters came with khobez flatbreads.

For mains, one of us went with a vegetarian cous cous – long cooked flavoursome vegetables (carrots, chickpeas, aubergine, squash and cabbage). A nice, lightish dinner that made a change from meals involving big lumps of protein. Tapsi was a new dish for us – Google telling me it’s Iraqi in origin. Effectively a thick stew of long-cooked aubergine, thick slices of potato, onion and lamb, baked in a tomato sauce. For the last few minutes, cherry tomatoes had been added for a bit of freshness. There’s a little background heat, in the otherwise quite subtle spicing, probably coming from pul biber. It comes with rice. I can’t recall seeing this dish on menus in the UK but I’ve never eaten at an Iraqi place. Certainly one to look out for in the future.