Zahi and Penny Azzi are the husband and wife team behind Kazbah Restaurants. Here they chat to Ciao about family, flavour and their food philosophy…
What are the most essential ingredients in your kitchen?
Zahi: We use a lot of garlic, feta, harissa (the chilli paste) and saffron. But herbs in general, like coriander and parsley, are also essential. We are all about the flavour, food doesn’t mean much without these herbs and spices that add taste.
What do you eat when you really want to indulge?
Penny: We really like Asian food. Thai food is very flavoursome, Vietnamese is very fresh and we like Chinese food too.
Zahi: Only because our food is a little heavy and very different. Asian food has an entirely different texture with different components; there’s sweet, sour, hot and spicy – it’s a bit of a change for us. Even their noodles, you can’t compare to pasta, they are a little lighter. And I guess a good bottle of wine with dinner is an indulgence too.
If you could invite anyone for dinner at your place, whom would you invite?
Penny: Maybe Tom Ford or someone in the fashion industry to add a bit of glam. Someone from Cartier would be good too; where guests usually bring flowers to a dinner party, maybe they could bring some diamonds!
Do you watch cooking shows?
Penny: We’ve got kids and they love cooking shows, they watch MasterChef and really like Heston Blumenthal. They get amazed when they watch him and then say, ‘Daddy can we make that?!’ Heston is amazing, he’s nothing like anybody else and seems like a genuinely nice person.
Are your kids second-generation foodies?
Penny: They love their food and eat everything. They want a three-course meal all the time (I’ll have to warn whoever they marry!). Sometimes when we’ve gone out for yum cha or a big lunch somewhere, Zahi will say ‘I’ll just make some sandwiches or we’ll have some fruit’ [for dinner] and they freak out – suddenly it’s like, ‘Oh my God we’re starving! You’re not going to make us dinner? We want food!’
Zahi: I guess because they are always hanging around us and we are travelling and trying new restaurants all the time so they really understand food and ask lots of questions about it.
What’s your food philosophy at the restaurant?
Zahi: We specialise in restaurant-standard breakfasts and offer great banquets, which we actually call ‘feasts’ because of the amount of food involved – it’s our style of food, it’s big and our dinner menu especially is designed for sharing; we try to create the feeling of a homely dinner table.
More info at www.kazbah.com.au.
Baked Kataifi Prawns with Muhamara Sauce
6 large King prawns, peeled except for head and tail
1 tbsp olive oil
Muhamara sauce (A delicious dip that can be used to complement any grill or as a dressing. Can be kept in the fridge up to a week in an airtight container)
Wrap Kataifi around prawns. Place on a tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake in oven at 180 degrees C, serve with Muhamara sauce.
To make Muhamara Sauce:
Blend 50g shelled walnuts, 2 peeled roasted capsicums, ½ tsp harissa, 1 tps ground cumin, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 240ml olive oil, 1 tsp tomato paste and 1 clove garlic in a food processor to a coarse paste consistency.