Minus the slightly orientalizing tone of the article (“exotic oasis in Brooklyn”) I was happy to see this in the NY Times Travel section today. And so close by..,
Moustapha helps a customer at the Oriental shop. [Matthew Weinstein for The New York Times]
I guess to the author of the article Middle-Eastern folks are still “exotic” and “other,” but that of course would be the subject of a whole other post – and it’s too early in the AM for that one. Keeping it light….
Check it out here.
I went through a stage of addiction with Tabouli. I’m still in recovery, but it’s one straight way to my heart. Nothing quite like a fresh, perfectly dressed tabouli salad.
There are only two places I will order it out from: at The Olive Vine Cafe on Macdougal Street in NYC, and the Lebanese restaurant in Ein Karem (Just outside of Jerusalem). Mohammed, the Egyptian cook at the NYC spot, brought me into the kitchen once after I lauded him with compliments for his outstanding tabouli. His secrets (hope it’s okay I’m sharing!) were: (1) always make it fresh, and (2) nearly equal parts fresh mint, and fresh flat parsley.
My brother Eli, and mom Martha, taught me the basics once they got sick of my requests for it. What has evolved is my own take on the salad below. My cousin Mira, didn’t even like the salad, but continued to try for years, because of my impassioned obsession for it.
Enjoy! You can even sprinkle it with some crumbled feta (my aunt Marilyn’s spin on it) and enjoy it with some freshly baked pita.
- 1/2 cup bulgur (cracked wheat); medium coarseness
- 1 bunch fresh flat parsley, rinsed & chopped finely
- 2 handfuls of fresh mint, rinsed & chopped finely
- 2-3 green onions/scallions, rinsed & chopped finely; (alternatively, purple onion is a nice substitution)
- 2-3 tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 persian cucumbers (optional)
- 1/2 can of chickpeas, drained & rinsed (Cedar or Goya are fave brands)
- salt & pepper to taste
- fresh lemons (1 -2) or two tbsp. lemon juice
- 2-3 tbsp. of very good olive oil; (the olive oil from middle eastern grocery stores tends to be the best)
- Soak the bulgur in 1 cup of boiling water for at least 25 minutes; drain, rinse, squeeze out any extra liquid, and set aside, or in refrigerator
- Rinse parsely & mint; chop either by hand or in food processor
- Rinse scallions and chop finely, on an angle; add to parsley & mint
- Rinse cucumbers, and chop finely; add them & bulgur to the mix
- Tomatoes: I always do them last because of the juice it can get messy; dice
- Add drained chickpeas
- Whisk together the olive oil, salt and pepper, and lemon juice, and dress.
- If you want to be fancy about presentation, looks nice on a bed of lettuce garnished with lemon slices – but I rarely have the patience for the Martha Stewart-touch. Stir and eat!
Be sure to eat lots of this before you go visit Eli Shem-Tov in the dentist’s chair, and breathe your thick garlicky breath on your friendly dentist. You can visit Eli’s website at: http://www.northyorkdental.com/dental-clinic.php
TO know more about the man behind the chickpeas, see below:
Dr. Shem-Tov as a child
Dr. Shem-Tov was a patient at North York Dental since he was a young boy and was inspired by his childhood dentist, Dr. Tom McKean (past President of the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario), to pursue a career in dentistry.
As an undergraduate, Dr. Shem-Tov studied neuroscience at the University of Toronto. In 1988, he entered the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario and received his DDS. He then returned home to North York and became the dentist at his boyhood practice.
Dr. Shem-Tov at the University
Dr. Shem-Tov is currently a clinical instructor at the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Toronto. He has volunteered his dental skills in his travels to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America.
Dr. Shem-Tov lives in the Annex and is a passionate cyclist, avid skier and horrible golfer. He is more than happy to swap recipes and stories about his two children, Levi and Zoe.
back to top
- one can of chickpeas (CEDAR is the best brand); reserve juice from can
- 3-6 cloves of garlic – depending how garlicky you like it
- 4-6 tablespoons of tahina (sesame seed paste); preferably Middle Eastern
- 3 tablespoons olive oil – preferably a Middle Eastern brand
- sprinkle of cumin
- the juice of 1 fresh lemon
- optional: za’tar
- Crush garlic in a garlic press & put it in food processor
- Add tahina, sprinkle of cumin, olive oil, lemon juice and 3-5 tablespoons of the chick pea juice reserve to food processor; blend until texture is light and smooth
- Add drained chick peas – in portion, and pulse to maintain a chunky texture; if you like it smoother, blend until desired texture is reached
- You’re done; nice to place it on a dish and use tablespoon to “shmear” around a plate; drizzle a little olive oil, paprika and parsley and eat with a brown egg.
- Best served at room temperature, with warm pita.