Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tastes of Home

While I come from a long line of German farmers who put some of the best meat and potato concoctions on the table (and breads!), there's another set of flavors and foods that tell me I'm home. From the first time I tasted these flavors I think I fell in love.

One step in the door and we could have closed our eyes and just followed the smell of garlic, lemon, onion, and spices up the stairs to a bustling kitchen. Sybil and Maan gave us a hearty welcome as we entered the swirl. Maan never missed a beat as he prepared the last skewers of lamb for the grill merrily smoking outside, and the tabouli looked like summer in a bowl - a vibrant mix of green parsley, onion and mint with sparks of red tomato, garlic, and bulgur.

A friend worked away on the kibbeh nyee (pronounced kib-bay nigh-ay) - raw ground lamb mixed with bulgur and a family recipe of assorted spices - shaping the meat, pouring on the olive oil and setting mint leaves around the plate for a tasty garnish. Each family has their own mix of spices, which usually include cumin and cloves. Best eaten wrapped in a bit of pita with a slice of raw onion this is one of the taste sensations I adore.

Sybil guided us to cold beers and a big bowl of hummous decked out with olive oil and bright parsley leaves waiting next to the kalamatta olives, sliced fresh vegetables, and soft pita bread. Surrounded by these friends, tastes, and sounds was simply joy.

Sybil's Hummous*
2 15 oz. cans of chick peas (drain about half the liquid and save the extra)
2 large cloves of garlic (more if you like. Cut out the centers unless super fresh.)
3/4 teaspoons salt
2-3 tablespoons tahini
1/3 cup (or a bit more) lemon juice (about the juice of one lemon)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (remove the large stems before chopping)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Place the first five ingredients in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth. Sybil likes hers with some texture still in it.) Use excess liquid from the chickpeas as necessary without making it too soupy or too thick. (You should be able to scoop it up with pita without it dripping.) Place in shallow serving bowl. Cover with olive oil and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with pita bread or crackers, but take a photo of it immediately. You won't get another chance.
*Note: Recipe perfected in mid-1980's, and still in use as of February, 2010. Vary amounts to suit your taste, but this is a good starting point by all accounts.


Unknown said...

Tabuli or however you want to spell it, is one of the few dishes Maan makes that does not have garlic.

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

What?!? I have distinct memories of mashing garlic in the bottom of the bowl with salt. Isn't there even a little?