If you’d like to bring a taste of the Mediterranean to your table, Al Azim has two suggestions.
The falafel and stuffed grape leaves from his restaurant, Hupply Pupply, will provide an Arabian Nights ambience while satisfying hungry appetites.
Of Egyptian heritage, Azim established his cafe that now includes a grocery, hookah bar and an outdoor dining area in 2004, moving to the present location last year.
“I learned how to really cook when I moved to the U.S. 30 years ago,” he said. “My mother gave me all of her recipes and I finally perfected them, but only after many long-distance phone calls to Mom.”
Though his mother still consults and advises Azim on “tweaks and suggestions on certain dishes, there’s no doubt: I’m in charge.”
With a medical degree, job stints including cultural foreign affairs adviser for the command group in Iraq and chief language consultant at the Defense Department, the multi-lingual entrepreneur shrugs off the term “Renaissance man.”
“I was just lucky,” Azim said, crediting his close family and father in particular for instilling a rigorous work ethic. “Hupply Pupply is a relaxing change after the years of military service.”
Sparkling in the afternoon sun, the diner-shaped front building houses Azim’s cozy grocery store, where exotic items fill the shelves. Reinforcing the diner theme is a full-length bar with high stools. Out back, behind a wooden fence, visitors may dine alfresco or visit the separate structure that showcases Azim’s extensive collection of hookahs.
Afternoon regulars to the cafe often include neighborhood children on their way home from school. They call Azim “Uncle” and he serves up ice cream and soda in the diner.
With exotic attractions like fire-breathers and belly dancers on some Friday evenings, the dog-friendly restaurant’s name may puzzle some. “Hupply pupply” was deemed as the closest phonetic match to the sound made by smoke bubbling up through the hookah.
Hupply Pupply falafel
Start to finish: 30 minutes
- 1-pound peeled Fava beans, soaked in water overnight
- ½ package chopped parsley, stems removed
- 1 cup green coriander or ½ package coriander chopped
- 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons dry coriander
- ¼ teaspoon hot curly (pepper), if desired
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Rinse fava beans and drain.
- Mix fava beans in blender or food processor until consistency of dough.
- Add the coriander, parsley, onion, garlic to fava beans and blend again until dough holds together.
- Add spices and mix well.
- Shape dough into 2 inch rounds and boil in vegetable oil until golden brown.
- Serve hot.
Hupply Pupply stuffed grape leaves
Start to finish: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus soaking time
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 16-ounce jar grape leaves
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Soak grape leaves in cold water for 2-3 hours in a colander, rinse and drain. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix well by hand.
- Rolling the grape leaves:
- Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of mixture in center of leaf. Fold in sides and roll upward, similar to a burrito.
- Carefully wrap the grape leaves, firm but not too tight, leaving room for the rice to expand.
- Place in a circular arrangement in dutch oven or saucepan.
- Lay a heavy plate on top of all stuffed leaves in pan. Fill pan with water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes until rice and meat are done.
— Recipes from Hupply Pupply owner, Al Azim