Opening a restaurant called ‘Stockholm’ in any mid-sized Swedish town would most likely result in vandalism, ridicule and petitions to ban it being passed around among the locals. The ahem, ‘complex relationship’ that many communities have with the capital city is alive and well in Sweden.
Opening a place called Malmø (spelled with a Danish ‘ø’ as a nod towards continentalism) is, on the other hand, perceived by Stockholmers as slightly cheeky, cocky and exotic. And that is just what artists Timbuktu, Mange Schmidt, nightclub owner Jimmy Blomberg Dali and his wife Fatima, did.
Smack bang in the middle of the always busy and lively K25 food court is Malmø’s hole-in-the-wall food stand, covered in voguish white subway tiles. The lack of options on the menu makes it straightforward to order and very clear what Malmø is all about: making the Malmö-style falafel (which is said to be the very best in Sweden) available to Stockholm.
So what makes a falafel in Malmö different from a falafel in Stockholm, you ask? The woman behind the counter doesn’t seem to have a clear answer for me. But because yours truly lives a short distance from the southern Swedish city, I’m happy to give you some insight. Brought to the city by immigrants from Israel and Lebanon, the chickpea balls, seasoned with fresh herbs and cumin, are deep fried into crisp and fluffy nuggets. Wrapped in ‘liba’ bread stuffed with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, parsley, pickled cucumber and several sauces, it is hand-eaten wrapped in tinfoil. The price, which typically ranges between 20 and 50 kronor, is naturally strongly associated with the falafel’s popularity in Malmö.
At Malmø, the first bite into the falafel roll (79 kronor) gives mixed results. My first reaction is that it would be slightly misleading to call it a “typical” Malmö falafel. There are a bunch of other ingredients and flavours, which you won’t typically find in the south. However, I really enjoy the luxe inclusion of pickled cauliflower, red cabbage, tabbouleh, hummus, and amba (a tangy mango pickle condiment), and they make for a flavoursome mouthful. There are several add-ons: a harissa (15 kronor), a ‘zhoug’ chilli sauce (15 kronor) and yoghurt balls that all come highly recommended.
Last but not least, there’s the price tag that just doesn’t quite sit well with me. But that undoubtedly has to do with the fact that I’m a short drive from what I consider to (still) be the very best falafel in all of Sweden, for no more than 25 kronor.
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Words: Micha van Dinther