Last month, there was a lot of buzz and excitement in the family. Nitin Madan (my brother in-law) released his first movie – “Colin Hearts Kay” – at the Brooklyn film festival. Whilst we couldn’t wait to see it, we were all a little tense. If we loved it, it would be a ‘no-brainer’ but what if we didn’t? What would we say? Well thank God….it was amazing!!! It was super-hilarious and might I add did so well at the festival that they added an extra screening. Ultimately it took home awards for Best Editing and the Audience Choice Award! If you ever get the opportunity to see it, I cannot recommend it highly enough (www.colinheartskay.com).
My brother loved the film so much that he organized a private screening of his own in a downtown New York screening room. He asked me if I would come. I said YES!! He asked me if I could cook. I said ‘ARE YOU KIDDING WITH ME’. I know cooking for 20 people might not phase many people but for me it felt like catering!! Whilst somewhat intimidated by the prospect, I turned the volume really low on that unwanted voice in my head and reminded myself calmly that this was for Nitin, after all. Of course, approaching it with that lens made me want to do it. I had to figure out what to cook but given that we are experiencing our annual heat wave in NYC, it obviously wouldn’t be beef stroganoff. Done! It would be a citrus, sweet and spicy spread of ‘mayonaisse-less’ potato salad, tabouleh and lavash-wrapped chicken kebab rolls. Since I forgot to take pictures of the chicken kebabs and since nobody mentioned my potato salad even once, here is the recipe for my tabouleh salad. You must make this before the summer is over, it is tasty and healthy and sufficient to eat all by itself.
5oz couscous or bulgur
1 ½ juice of lemon and 1 lemon rind
1 garlic clove
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup of pine nuts
1 large bunch of cilantro
1 large bunch of parsley
½ bunch of mint
8 scallions / spring onions (including the greens)
1 deseeded red bell pepper
1 tsp coriander powder
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can Garbanzo beans / chickpeas
Optional: 1 Persian cubed cucumber, deseeded tomato
1. Prepare couscous as per directions (on packet)
2. Once cooked add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, fluff with a fork and allow to cool
3. Peel clove of garlic and mince in to a fine paste
4. Wisk remaining olive oil with minced garlic, lemon juice and lemon rind until the mixture reaches a cloudy golden color
5. Finely chop all the cilantro, parsley, scallions / spring onions, mint and finely cube the red bell pepper
6. In a pan, lightly toast the pine nuts
7. Lightly wash and drain the garbanzo beans / chickpeas
8. Add the couscous, the chopped herbs and red bell pepper, the garbanzo beans and pine nuts to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the dry ingredients of salt, cayenne pepper and coriander powder
9. Pour over the olive oil, lemon and garlic mixture and toss all the ingredients together
10. Allow Tabouleh to stand for at least 10 to 15 minutes
For me, this dish deserves its own importance and doesn’t have to be eaten as a side dish. It is a complete meal and the garbanzo beans provides as a great source of protein. However, I hear my husband’s voice in the back of my head asking me ‘so, where is the chicken’. If you also experience chicken anxiety, please feel free to serve with grilled chicken. Enjoy your Middle Eastern moment ‘bil hana wish shifa’!!
Pearls of Wisdom
Nurture your couscous during the cooking process. If the couscous is overcooked, your salad will taste mushy, aka ‘horrendous’. Once the couscous is cooked, after I fluff it, I spread it out on a large plate to accelerate the cooling period.