It’s a tradition in Lebanon, as well as Jordan and many other countries over here, to get together with your extended family for the main meal each Sunday. With Eddy’s family in Lebanon and mine in Iraq, we can’t completely carry out that tradition. We can, however, enjoy the good food that accompanies it!
After getting home from Mass, baby Charbel takes a nap, and Eddy and I make lunch, often outdoor on the hibachi grill. When we have time, we make a traditional Lebanese meal, complete with hommous, tabouli, fries and seasoned grilled meat. You’ve probably heard of shish-kabab before, usually served as pieces of meat and vegetables on a stick. Shish-kabab is an Arabic word; the “shish” is the stick used for grilling, and the “kabab” is a certain type of grilled meat. The Lebanese cuisine has many varieties of meats grilled on the shish, including different chicken recipes, beef, lamb, and fish, in addition to the “kabab.” Collectively, these grilled meats are called “mashawi.”
Eddy usually takes care of the meat, while I make the sides. Tabouli, a colorful Arab salad, is a regular favorite. It’s pretty simple to make, if you want to give it a try – finely chopped parsley, mint, onion and tomato, with a sprinkle of bulgar wheat (also known as cracked wheat) mixed together with lemon juice, olive oil, and a little salt and pepper.
I learned how to make tabouli by watching others make it, rather than from a recipe, so I always estimate the proportions. Since that won’t help most of you, I looked for measurements online. You might do some adjusting to suit your tastes, but I think the proportions given in this link are pretty accurate: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/AUTHENTIC-LEBANESE-TABOULI-1219893 . If you have enough time, make a double batch – tabouli tastes even better on the second day!
Since we started making lunch later than usual today, we popped hotdogs in the oven instead of making the traditional grilled meat. Even though it detracted from the authentic character of the meal, it was still exciting – last time we went to the grocery store, we caved in a paid a killer price to get authentic, imported American hotdogs for the first time in two years. There are plenty of local alternatives that are perfectly fine, but none of them perfectly get the right texture or taste.
A plate of lettuce and cucumbers, to accompany the tabouli, and a bag of chips completed the array, and we sat down to enjoy our Lebanese-American combo.