Ashraf cooks up a storm at #Coya #restaurant, #Cromer #Sydney

On Thursday night we made the trip to the northern beaches suburb of Cromer for a special Arabian nights themed dinner at Chef Ashraf Saleh’s Coya restaurant.

Ashraf’s reputation for innovative middle eastern cooking is growing in Sydney and after the divine 7 course degustation we enjoyed, I imagine it won’t be long before we hear of troves of Sydney-siders making their way to Cromer for dinner! (Better still if he moves to the inner city of course!)

True to his website description Chef Ashraf demonstrated his” drive and enthusiasm for combining herbs and spices from the East with the best ingredients from the West” in a beautifully presented series of thoughtfully put together dishes, ending with a stunning desert of Baklava Halva Cheesecake with figs and raspberries.

This is a restaurant which lives up to the professional phot shoot in real life!

The meal started with mezze of the best Baba Ghanoush, Hummus and Tabbouleh I have ever tasted. (Ashraf says he only uses “male” eggplants in his Baba Ghanoush to avoid the bitterness of the seeds in female eggplants. I forgot to ask him how you tell a male eggplant from a female eggplant!) it is the extra touches like the minute pine nuts served with the Hummus is what you feel the care and thought that has gone into each dish and it is this that makes his food really stand out.

Following Mezze our tastebuds were tantalised by stunningly presented Kibbeh Nayea…a raw lamb tartare,

Maloof – a cabbage roll stuffed with seafood in a beautiful accompanying sauce,

Shish Barak – duck parcels in a tortellini style wrapping with a divine saffron tomato broth,

Grilled lamb Kofta with a stunning “Mujadarra” rice lentil and cucumber yoghurt salad base,

organic chicken Shawarma with then garlicky deliciousness of the Arabian Toum dipping sauce.

But after all this there was still room for desert which was a fittingly fabulous finale to a truly remarkable foodie adventure!

Head up to Coya sooner rather than later and check for Ashraf’s special themed Spanish and Offal nights which he does regularly as well as a very interesting a la carte menu!

Baked Eggs with Merguez Sausages and Chilli

Looking for a spicy start to the new year? Here’s my take on middle-eastern eggs with Lamb Merguez sausages made at our local butcher. (Nick’s Meats at Edgecliff Shopping. Centre for those of you who live in Sydney.)

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (2 servings)

3 large merguez sausages
1 red onion halved then sliced
1/2 teaspoon cummin powder
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1-red chillies finely chopped
1-2 tomatoes halved or if using only one, then cut into 4 thick slices
4 teaspoons butter
Olive oil
coriander to garnish
Pita bread or tortillas to serve


1. Cook merguez sausages in a frying pan on medium heat 10-15 minutes until cooked.Rest and then cut into thick diagonal slices.

2. meanwhile heat 2-3 tablespoons of oilive oil in a separate frying pan, then fry garlic until crispy, add onions and chillies and fry until onions are slightly caramelised and translucent.

3. Remove onions and add tomatoes to the same pan, adding a bit more oilive oil if needed. sprinkle each side of the tomatoes with a pinch of cummin powder and salt as you are cooking them. You don’t want the tomatoes to break up, just brown on each side and keep their shape.

4. Place half the onions, tomatoes, sausages to reheat in a medium size frying pan or 2 seperate ovenproof dishes (leaving 2 “holes” for the eggs), add 2 teaspoons of butter to the pan, then break 2 eggs into the holes and swivel the pan or dish gently to allow egg white to reach edges of pan.

5. Place pan under hot grill and bake until eggs are cooked to your liking, preferably leaving yolks runny, garnish with coriander, eat with warm pita bread or tortillas.