My aunt and I decided to spend the summer exploring places in the greater Jackson area that we have always wanted to see, but haven’t yet. Our first journey wasn’t a big win since three of the places were closed and one we had to leave before we were ready.
Since the Asian Market was closed, I decided to stop at Aladdin’s Market which was further down on my list. Aladdin’s is one of several restaurants here which caters to our Middle Eastern population and has an attached grocery store. Since trying them, I have always loved hummus, baba ghannouj, and tabouleh. I wanted to pick up some supplies since they are among my summer favorites.
As we wandered around the small store, there were plenty of items that I didn’t recognize at all depending on the English description to know what they were. There were also many that I did recognize including bughler, chickpeas, and tahini. While discussing foods and their preparation, the grocer figured out that, while I love these foods, making them was new to me. He introduced me to a great book entitled, Middle East Cookbook, which includes recipes from all over the Middle Eastern regions.
At home, as I studied the book to get an idea what the various countries offer, it became apparent that the same produce is used there as here. Lamb and eggplant, which is used to make baba ghannouj, is a part of their daily diet as is cumin, coriander, and cardamom, among other spices. Our diet doesn’t call for these nearly as often.
So, today, I made falafel with a side of tabouleh following the book’s directions. Falafel is a cornmeal-like substance made of fava and garbanzo beans mixed with spices. You mix it with water and bake or fry it. It’s great with a yogurt/cucumber sauce. Tabouleh is a salad of sorts made with bughler wheat, parsley, mint, onion and a dressing made with olive oil and lemon juice. So good and even better cold.
I have always loved Middle Eastern food. To have the supplies to make my own is just terrific. My favorite part was the cooking directions for tabouleh and falafel. For both foods, the directions started with measure correct portion and add suggested amount of cold water, then, let it sit for a half hour.
So, while they soaked up the liquid, I sat. Now, other than ordering from a waiter, that is my favorite way to cook. Truly, my favorite part was the eating. So little effort for so much enjoyment. So, here’s to more journeys through the cookbook. Tomorrow, I think it’s hummus with black olives. Emma is ignoring me totally, but she shouldn’t worry. The lambs’ tongue salad will never be made or served.