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When Nina Mustacchi tagged me on Instagram with her Fool Medemas recipe, I was intrigued to know more about her, and the exact details involving this Allepian flavor infused side dish. (click HERE to see it on Insta- and if you are not on Instagram yet, then please do so because you are missing out on a lot of Jewish Hostess fun!)
Of course, an authentic dish always tastes so much better when you get the background the the food and the real chef behind it, so Nina happily shared her story with me for all of my Jewish Hostesses to enjoy.
Born in Aleppo, Syria in 1970, 15 year old Nina Maleh knew that Syria was not a welcoming place for her her and the Syrian Jewish community that had lived there for 3,000 years. Travel restrictions, business limitations, jail time, and Nazi-type beatings inflicted by the Syrian government were commonplace among all innocent fellow community members. One by one, the Syrian Jewish community began to escape the country. Most of them trudged perilously by foot to Israel, Turkey, and Lebanon. Nina’s parents had decided to escape Syria the year before so that they could set up a home in Brooklyn for when Nina and her two brothers would be able to escape to Brooklyn. In 1985, Nina and her two young brothers fled the country by walking 12 hours through mountainous roads to get to freedom in Turkey. Soon after, they finally reunited with their parents in Brooklyn, N.Y. The day that 17 year old Nina stepped into her new Brooklyn home, she met her future husband, who coincidentally happened to be visiting her parents. Nina told me that the minute that he set eyes upon her, he proposed on the spot! (phew-what a trip!!)
Nina told me that every Shabbat lunch she now serves at least 15 salads- Halaby style. (Halab-meaning milk, is the Arabic word for Aleppo, known as the place where Abraham our forefather rested and fed his camels on his journey). The Halaby Jews are known for the abundant variety of salads and mazza that they serve with every Shabbat meal. Here is the Halaby version of fool, hummos, and falafel, which is also made Egyptian style by Egyptian Jews and Arabs alike. Pita bread is usually used to scoop up this flavorful concoction.
There are 3 components to this dish:
2-The tehina- The Syrian style tehina is thicker and more lemony than the traditional more watery Israeli style of tehina. The tehina is the bottom layer.
2- The fool- (fava beans)- The Halaby or Allepian version of fool is much more lemony than the Egyptian method. Here Nina recommends using canned fava beans as opposed to the more time consuming task of boiling dried fava beans. This is the second layer.
3- The falafel patties- made with dried chick peas, soaked overnight. The falafel patties top this dish.
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