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Recipe from Sahar Nashashibi, chef, Fairouz (story told by daughter Haya).

My mom has always had a feel for cooking, even when she was young. Her mom — my grandmother — was a great cook too, and my mom used to watch her. Growing up in Jerusalem, my mother’s family had gatherings and feasts every Friday at her father’s house. Imagine, Thanksgiving. And that was every single Friday. They cooked everything from appetizers to desserts. Back home, appetizers — like hummus and tabouleh — are big things. By the time the main course comes, you’re stuffed.

When my mother married my father, she was only 18 and she had to cook. She’s been cooking ever since, for family dinners and religious celebrations. My parents are Muslim and they celebrate Eid, which is the celebration after Ramadan. Ramadan is where Muslims fast for a month. The main point is to show us how it feels when people don’t have food...so we don’t eat from sunrise to sunset. You can’t eat or drink anything. You can’t even brush your teeth. Homeless people and poor people can’t get food many days, so Ramadan teaches us compassion and patience and love for other people. Eid is a three-day celebration after Ramadan, and it’s a huge feast. We get a lamb and stuff it with rice and meat. The lamb is also given to those less fortunate.

When we’re at home, my mom cooks much like she does at the restaurant. But at home she uses more lamb and meat. For example, when she makes okra, she puts beef in it. She doesn’t do that at the restaurant because we have so many vegetarian customers. My favorite dish of my mother’s is a yogurt dish with rice and cauliflower, and it’s served hot. And her grape leaves are amazing. They are really small and have lamb and rice inside. On top of the rice, she puts tomatoes and potatoes so the leaves don’t burn.

One of my mom’s favorite dishes is tabouleh because it reminds her of back home. She loves simple food that is close to the garden. She says it’s healthy and super fresh. They used to cook it all the time back in Jerusalem — the olive oil is so good there. Tabouleh reminds her of her mother too because my grandmother made it all the time. My mom says she could have eaten it all day long. I wish I knew how to cook. I just come to the restaurant and eat.

INGREDIENTS

(Serves four as a side dish)

1/4 cup bulgur wheat
3 large bunches of parsley, finely chopped
4 spring onions, finely chopped4 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt or more, to taste
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

HOW TO DO IT

Add a cup of water to a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the bulgur wheat. Let sit for 30 minutes. Chop the parsley, onions, and tomatoes and salt the tomatoes. Combine the chopped vegetables together in a medium bowl.

Drain the bulgur and add to the tomatoes, onions, and parsley. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix well. Add more lemon juice and salt if needed.

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