Over the holidays my family had a special guest stay with us who lives in New York, but is lebanese.  She is one of the most well known and respected yoga teachers in New York City.  She gave this speech at one of her classes recently and I was very touched.  I wanted to share her kind words and my grandfather’s (who is a legendary chef here in san diego) hummus recipe. Enjoy!

“My dear friend comes from a family of chefs. Her grandpa is a chef, her mom is a pastry chef, her brother is a chef, her cousin is a chef. I spent the holidays with her family who lives in San Diego and so naturally we had many lunches and dinners in the homes of her relatives. On Christmas Eve, we were at her uncle’s house. On Christmas day we had dinner at her grandpa and grandma’s house. Then on our last night, we had planned to have Mexican food. You see my friend often brags about how good Mexican food is out west and how one can’t find as real Mexican cuisine in NYC. But then her grandfather insisted that we go to his house for our last supper. He wanted to cook for a change…

At 6pm, we walk into her grandparents’ home, which kind of looks like a Mexican hacienda, it’s Southern California after all and to our surprise, he had cooked an entire Lebanese meal. He made tabbouleh and hummus with red peppers from scratch. Perhaps the best hummus I’ve ever tasted. Then he made a typical Lebanese dish made of string beans and tomatoes and another rice dish for entrees. Apparently he downloaded some recipes from the Internet, he then went to the Middle Eastern market to buy the necessary spices. It was his first experiment ever in Lebanese cuisine. It was so sweet and thoughtful I was going to cry. I couldn’t believe that he would go out of his way like that. I am his granddaughter’s friend. He doesn’t need to show off or to impress me. But you see…  He made this delicious Lebanese meal to make me happy. He cooked not only because of his interest in food but because he is also interested in others.

So like that, when we do something, even that which might seem most ordinary, out of interest not only for the subject but also out of interest for others, then anything we do takes on a extra-sweet, extra-special quality; anything we do becomes extra-ordinary. Like we practice yoga not only because we are interested in the subject but because we are also interested in the wellbeing of others – we know the yoga helps us better take care of others.”

My Grandfathers Recipe (in his words, thank you papa!)

Roast Red Pepper Hummus

2 red bell peppers

1 cups chickpeas, canned or cooked and rinsed

1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic

1/3 cup tahini (sesame butter)
3 tablspoons cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/3 teaspoon salt
 (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon virgin olive oil

Sprinkle fresh minced parsley

Combine the roast peppers, chickpeas and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the tahini, lemon, paprika, chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper; puree another minute until the mixture is very smooth.
To serve: place the hummus on a large plate that has been lined with lettuce leaves. Make an indentation in the center of the hummus and pour in the olive oil. Sprinkle the parsley across the hummus and serve with Arabic flatbread or pita. You can find very good middle eastern bread at Trader Joe.  **In the above picture (which was my snack as I was blogging yum!) I did not have any parsley so I chopped some arugula, I also added pine nuts! **In this picture I served hummus on cucumber rounds and in the recipe I used half the peppers and reserved the rest to serve raw chopped on top. Either way it was great!