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Bateeni offers healthy, flavorful Mediterranean cuisine

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Cristina Ruotolo
Hot Dish

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Summer is almost at its end, but that doesn’t mean you should stop eating healthy. You need to keep nourishing your body with fresh and wholesome foods that keep you fully charged and healthy during the long winter months. Let Bateeni Mediterranean Grill & Cafe at 1868 W. Arlington Blvd. in Greenville be your food savior this fall and winter offering up a colorful and healthy meal every time. They offer an array of authentic Mediterranean cuisine using their centuries old tradition of combining healthy ingredients and flavors from all corners of the world.

Mediterranean cuisine lends its name to culinary trends shared by a varied group of people that live in the region around the Mediterranean Sea. The mild climate yields an agricultural bounty of healthy fruits and vegetables. The Mediterranean diet is rich in lean proteins including chicken and fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts and healthy fats like olive oil. This marriage of nutrition and taste has been known to increase ones overall health and well-being.

Bateeni brings these concepts front and center in every dish they serve. Nothing is processed, everything is made from scratch and there is no added sugar and or salt. They even offer the largest gluten-free menu in Greenville. Only three items on their menu actually have gluten, so those with gluten allergies have found a food paradise.

Owner Asif Daher and his wife has been running Bateeni in Greenville for almost five years. Originally from Jerusalem, he has been cooking since a young age and has years of experience running restaurants. Asif knows his way around a kitchen and strives to feed you and your family healthy food every day whether you come for lunch, dinner or a catered meal. From the appetizers to desserts, they are keeping the kids and you healthy all year long.

Their menu consists of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, entrees, desserts and authentic drinks all made with nature’s bounty. At the core of Bateeni’s menu is pita bread that is made fresh daily. The final result is a pillowy soft pocket of warm bread that is the backdrop and star of dozens of their dishes. You can come in anytime and pick some up to use for sandwiches or with your dips at home. A 14-ounce bag has four pieces and only cost $1.50.

Now that we have the perfect pita, let’s use it for one of their signature dips, the homemade hummus. This creamy dip is made with delicious fiber filled chick peas, tahini (sesame paste), garlic and lemon juice blended into a smooth consistency. The top is drizzled with glossy olive oil and garnished with a sprinkle of Paprika and fresh chopped parsley. The flavor is mellow yet savory and has the texture of silky satin. It’s vibrant and fresh with the pop of citrus and a hint of sesame on the back end. I have been known to eat my weight in this incredible dip. Add in a handful of briny Kalamata olives, a hunk of decadent Feta cheese, or any of the other appetizers on their list and you have just created a personalized tapas that keeps you full and your belly singing a happy tune.

Let’s move on to another appetizer, the Falafel. OK, so for those of you that don’t know what this is, it’s a traditional middle eastern dish that starts with the same protein packed chick peas. Fresh chick peas are soaked overnight, then drained and ground. Then they add in parsley, onions, bell peppers and spices imported from Jerusalem. The mixture is formed into palm-sized balls which are deep fried and topped with sesame seeds. It’s served with a homemade dipping sauce made with tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice and spices. The texture is like chopped potatoes but with root vegetable flavor running through. The outside is crunchy but when you break it open, the inside is warm, fragrant, soft and savory. The flavor is a cross between a potato pancake mixed with vibrant warm spice, and ending with a hint of sweet bell pepper. It’s fun to say and fun to eat. Whether you eat these on their own or add them in a pita sandwich, you are getting a protein rich meal that will leave you feeling full and satisfied for hours.

Now let’s talk about the ever popular Gyro pita sandwich. Some people pronounce it “hero,” or “Gee-roe,” or “jiroe.” It’s actually pronounced “Yee-ro.” No matter how you pronounce it, it’s tasty and unique and worth trying at least once in your life. It start with hand-raised lamb and beef mixed with spices and seasonings. The most important thing to note about this dish is that Bateeni raises their own lambs right outside Greenville, so the meat is fresh and locally sourced. Local lamb equals a better, fresher meat. Instead of cooking the meat rotisserie style, they slice it up and grill it on a flattop allowing it to retain more moisture. Add the meat into a pita filled with lettuce, tomato, red onions, and a homemade taziki sauce which is made with yogurt, chopped cucumber, mint, and lemon juice. You get the same soft pita, a juicy tangy meat, fresh veggies, and cool it all down with the yogurt sauce. It has a myriad of flavors that all work together beautifully.

Lastly, I tried a crowd favorite, the chicken shawarma sandwich. This dish starts with grilled seasoned chicken, lettuce, pickles and onions served in a grilled tortilla. Mine was served with homemade pickles, turnip pickles and sliced tomatoes. This dish had all the colors of the rainbow and the sandwich was dynamite and easy to see why it’s a crowd favorite. The kicker was the side items. Bateeni imports their miniature cucumbers and uses no vinegar in the pickling process. All they use is salt, garlic, dill and a little bit of sugar. The result is a super crunchy, slightly spicy bite. The turnip pickles are turnip root that is cut into strips colored bright pink. They are made the same way the pickles are with just salt and a few spices. They add in a beet so the pale turnips can draw in the beets rich, pink color. The result is a crunchy, vibrant bite. Pair these unique sides with fresh sliced tomatoes and it’s a healthy food winner.

No matter what you choose, Bateeni offers up the a world of tastes all with a healthy spin. Bateeni will be expanding their restaurant in the coming months adding in a deli counter and more space and will be updating their menu as well adding in some new items including the gyro pizza made with pita, a white Alfredo style sauce, and various meat and veggie add-ons. Don’t forget about Bateeni’s daily specials too. Monday and Thursday enjoy a falafal sandwich with fries for $4.99; Tuesday is the chicken shawarma sandwich with fries for $4.99; or enjoy the incredible gyros with fries for $4.99 on Wednesdays.

Bateeni also is available to cater your next event. They have a large catering menu and can accommodate your next in-house or off-site event with ease, giving you family style options to fit any budget. Why not give your next party a healthy spin and choose food from Bateeni? They are open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (252) 689-6222 or visit their website www.bateeni.com.

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