Cocina en Origen in Frigiliana: a town inhabited by three civilisations that sits between the sea and the mountains

Sitting on the southern slope of Sierra de Almijara, 56km from Malaga city and just 6km from Nerja, Frigiliana is one of the most beautiful villages in the Costa del Sol. In the past, the Jews, the Moors and the Christians once lived together here in total harmony. Its picturesque cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and perfectly whitewashed houses embellished with flowers will take visitors on a journey back in time to discover these different cultures. 

In this episode of ‘Cocina en Origen’, Samuel Perea explores the charming streets of Frigiliana which really speak of its Jewish, Moorish and Christian past. Sitting in the centre of the village, plaza de las Tres Culturas is a constant reminder that these civilisations lived together peacefully here. And, as you may expect, the traditional local gastronomy is influenced by this fusion. Paying homage to this historic fact, British chef Roberto Grimmond prepares a dish that brings together these three cultures.

Eating out in Frigiliana falafel

 

Recipe for ‘the three cultures’ (Lebanese-style falafel with grilled lamb)

British chef Roberto Grimmond came to Frigiliana as a tourist and ended up staying. Something that isn’t uncommon as about a third of the local population is composed of citizens from over 20 countries who, like their local ancestors, live peacefully together in this picturesque village in La Axarquía. Founder of ‘The Garden’, Roberto’s cookery is inspired by seasonal produce and, despite his origins, is defined by the elements of Mediterranean cuisine. 

Eating out in Frigiliana falafel

 

Roberto is going to prepare a dish he has called “the three cultures”, which comprises Lebanese-style falafel and grilled lamb, harking back to Frigiliana’s Muslim, Jewish and Christian past. The recipe is a little bit on the tricky side, though with care and attention you’re sure to be able to make it for yourself at home. Watch the video to discover the recipe step by step. 

- The first thing you have to do is prepare the falafel mix: chop an onion and set aside in a bowl. 

- Chop the coriander, parsley, and garlic and add to the bowl, alongside a mix of ground spices known as Hawaij Yemen, which is slightly spicy and contains cumin, coriander. Add salt. 

- Add the chickpeas, which have been left to soak in water overnight. Mix well and put in a food processor to form a smooth mixture. Set aside.

- Create a marinade for the lamb. Put the pieces of lamb with some ras el hanout, salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil, stir and leave to marinade.

- Light the fire and when it is ready, put the lamb on the grill and let it cook for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, shape the falafel from the mixture you made earlier. 

- Turn the lamb to make sure it cooks evenly on both sides and then deep fry the falafel. Remove any excess oil and set aside. 

- One of the symbols of the three cultures is bread, which is why Roberto makes his own Arab-style bread. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin and then use your hands to shape. Put in the oven for a couple of minutes.

- To make the salad: finely slice some red cabbage and cooked carrots, slice a spicy pepper, removing the seeds, add a mix of sugar, vinegar and fennel. 

- Put the vegetables in a bowl, chop the peppermint and add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the peppermint and pomegranate and mix well.

CoEating out in Frigiliana falafel and grilled lamb

 

Plating up: 

Remove the lamb from the grill and slice. On a large plate, place a circle of hummus in the centre, adding mango chutney in the centre. Then add the falafel and lamb around the plate, drizzling with the peppermint sauce, tahini and the vegetables. Once served, drizzle with treacle from Frigiliana. 

 

Frigiliana is one of the best-kept treasures in the province of Malaga. With one of the most original townscapes in the whole of Andalusia, the village has perfectly preserved its traditional architecture defined by little whitewashed houses and narrow streets lined with quaint shops and restaurants. Frigiliana is therefore a must-visit during your time in the province of Malaga. Its landscapes, sights, people, tranquillity and - of course - culture and gastronomy are an absolute delight. 

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