As a child, I always thought that falafel, hummus, and baba ghanoush were cool Indian dishes from some random part of the country- anytime my family went to the well-renowned Pita Inn in Schaumburg, all I saw were Indian families. The dishes even had odd names. The fact that all the men (and yes, they were all men) cooking in the kitchen visible behind the serving counter were Caucasian never struck me as odd- I’d never seen the kitchen of any other Indian restaurant I went to, so I just thought it was normal to have all Caucasian cooks in an Indian restaurant. Also, none of the men in my family liked to cook, so I figured Indian male cooks were scarce. I still think its true that most Indian men don’t like to cook, with the exception of my brother -in- law. At some point in my life ( I think it was that transformational stage between high school and college where you realize just how much about the world you actually don’t know) I realized that falafel, hummus, and baba ghanoush were actually Mediterranean and not Indian. It wasn’t a Eureka moment, but more like a grey cloud slowly drifting away from my brain and taking the shadow of ignorance with it. I think it was also a slow realization and not a point in time where I can recall becoming enlightened because its one of those embarrassing things I never wanted to admit to myself until now, when I declare it to the world.
This post isn’t about my naivete or my views on gender roles in Indian culture, although I could easily write on the latter for hours on end. This post is on a new discovery adding a unique flavor to many Indians’ favorite Mediterranean meal: tabbouleh salad. I discovered it at the local Naf-Naf Grill during a rushed dinner out that was unintended. Being vegetarian, we get excited when we can eat all the ingredients listed in a dish. So we ordered tabbouleh salad along with Israeli salad with our sandwiches, and both turned out to be amazing, which I would never expect out of something whose base ingredient is parsley, or especially, red cabbage.
We made tabbouleh on Christmas Day when we planned a last-minute dinner with family; it seemed like a good option to add a dish to our meal to add to the quantity of food we had, since we were planning for about 15 people . Boy, did we make a lot of tabbouleh salad. We ended up taking it for lunch AND serving it as a side dish to the next family we had over for dinner a few days later. The salad still tasted nice and fresh, not to worry. Here’s what you need to make this tasty, healthy, plentiful, long-lasting salad:
From Allrecipes.com, I found this recipe for 8 servings, which I adjusted for the 15 people coming over.
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint ( I used crushed frozen mint and only half this amount, and the minty taste was pretty strong so be conservative here, might want to add as you go along.)
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon salt (I put more, to taste)
ground black pepper to taste
This recipe also called for bulgar, but I just used cauliflower as needed instead for the texture per some website I found when I researched bulgar alternatives in tabbouleh. It didn’t really make a big difference so I’m not including the site here. My point is, you don’t need bulgar, and you also don’t need a substitute for bulgar- the salad tastes good on its own. I wish I took a picture…. it looked so pretty. Maybe next time, and maybe next time I’ll try it out with bulgar too.