Ashwin’s Birthday Feast

young south indian parents celebrating their new baby

September started out with the BEST news ~ baby Ashwin was born and the next day Shankari of Sacramento Spice and Rajesh brought him home. Excitement crackled over the blog-o-sphere, phones, via email, and Facebook, as family, friends, and well-wishers around the world eagerly asked for any bit of news.

Melody of CookingSchmooking….NoProblem & her hubby, Dave, hosted a “Welcoming Baby Feast” at their home this past Saturday. Decor was provided courtesy of Anissa – one of Shankari & Raj’s friends – with huge baby photo prints on the walls, Melody’s hubby Dave’s idea.

new baby napping in a bassinet
Baby Ashwin napped for most of the festivities.

Food was pot-luck (natch!) loosely following an ‘Indian’ theme. When I emailed Melody a list of my best dishes, she selected Tabbouleh as one of her fav foods. Hadn’t made my version of Tabbouleh in ages. So long ago, I can’t even remember when. (Tsk, tsk) Tabbouleh, such a versatile, easy-to-put-together hearty grain salad, needs to be on my quick list of tasty meals.

 

Mound of lemony tabbouleh ready to eat
Mound of aromatic tabbouleh redolent of fresh garlic, zesty lemon juice & spearmint. (Thanks for the photo, Melody!)

I was introduced to tabbouleh in the 1970’s long before I had ever seen or dined at an authentic Mid-Eastern restaurant. One Friday night, Jim Rosen, the originator of Fantastic Foods, invited us to his home in the woods of western Marin county. Jim, our roommate Eddie’s older brother,  wanted us to taste test & critique foods for a new restaurant cafe ‘Fantastic Foods’, he and his wife Joan, were planning to open near the College of Marin.

They made us pita bread sandwiches stuffed with tabbouleh and falafel balls topped off with melted Monterey Jack cheese (an American improv). YUM! We approved enthusiastically. The friendly cafe and yummy eats built a loyal following and launched the innovative, hugely successful natural foods firm, Fantastic Foods!

tabouleh ingredients
Simple ingredients for tasty Tabouleh, but i forgot to include a KEY flavor: LEMON in this photo!

Here’s my version of Tabbouleh, a recipe you may easily adapt to your own preferences.

TABBOULEH INGREDIENTS (best with organic ingredients, if you can find them):
* 3 cups Bulghur Wheat
* 4-6 cups of Pacific Organic Vegetable Stock (2 cups can be filtered water) or homemade stock, if you have some on hand
* Sea salt to taste, if your stock is not salted (keep test tasting….the salt ‘disappears’ into the bulghur and you’ll use more than you think to get the flavors right)

INSTRUCTIONS:

MIX bulghur, stock, & salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes stirring, so it cooks evenly. Turn off heat, let sit for an hour. Drain off extra broth. Chill for several hours or overnight.

Bulghur added to vegetable stock and after cooking
Bulghur added to vegetable stock (top) and after cooking (below)

Then, add these additional items:

* 2 cups of cooked White Beans (Garbanzo beans are the best)
* 4 large organic Tomatoes, chopped
* 1 Can of Black Olives or gourmet olives of your choice
* 1 Armenian or thin-skinned organic Cucumber, sliced & quartered into small chunks
* 1/4 cup Green Onions or Chives, chopped
* 4 teaspoons or more fresh Mint, chopped fine (spearmint is delish)
* 1/2 cup fresh Parsley, chopped fine
* 1/4 cup organic Olive Oil
* 4-8 Cloves of fresh organic Garlic, chopped fine
* Juice of 4-6 Meyer Lemons
* 1.5 teaspoons Sea salt (or to taste)
* Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

COMMENTS: Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, chopped garlic, green onions (or chives), mint, some salt & pepper into the bulghur before chilling as the flavors will meld wonderfully, if they sit together for awhile. The beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and additional fresh herbs (parley & mint) may be added 2 hours before serving.

3 thoughts on “Ashwin’s Birthday Feast”

  1. Oh yes! My mom was ahead of her time in that she owned a store/deli called The Health Nut Hut. She served vegetarian fare…all organic. Falafel and Tabbouleh in pita was my favorite!! We knew each other in another life!

    Your dish was delish. It was a burst of sunshine in my mouth. The first and last bites made me very happy..and I am eating a little bowl for breakfast right this minute. Yes..I can type and eat! I should run away and join the circus or something.

    Your tabbouleh was the best one I’ve ever tasted. Thanks for leaving it here. I feel healthier already.

  2. Gosh! (blushing…) Thanks for the rave review.

    How cool your Mom was WAY ahead of her time: international cuisine and vegetarian fare…. I’m impressed! Seems you come by your food enthusiasm naturally.

  3. What a lovely post about the shower.It was excellent- i loved the crunchiness of the cucumbers, freshness of mint with black olives. I might just end up making some at home this weekend.

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