What is tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh is a traditional vegetarian salad of Levantine cuisine, prepared with flat parsley, onion, tomato and mint, which is seasoned with lemon and olive oil.
It can also be written tabouleh or tabouli, from Arabic tabūlah (تبولة) and it could definitely be considered the national dish, or at least one of the national dishes of Lebanon.
This is primarily due to the cultural history of the Middle East between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries and the influence of the Mediterranean and the Europeans in Ancient Phoenicia, which corresponds to modern Lebanon.
The cultural mix that took place at this time contributed to the birth of a rich and unique gastronomy, also inspired by Syrian cuisine. Lebanese cuisine reflects the habits, customs and influences of Lebanese in the history of a people that has gone through 11 dominant civilizations.
Lebanese have inherited olive oil, breads, stuffed vegetables, dried fruits, from the Turks, and from the French protectorate, they have adopted several traditional French dishes. Lebanese cuisine is so rich in aromas, spices, and herbs.
Lebanese cuisine is particularly known for its mezzés, a series of small dishes that would be the equivalent of appetizers or hors d’oeuvres, including salads, spreads, fritters, puff pastry, bites, kebabs.
Indeed, from Asia to Europe, from the Middle East via India, North Africa, or Latin America, each country has its own appetizer culinary traditions around the world. A friendly and gourmet moment where the flavors of each country are represented.
Tortilla, boquerones, focaccia, dilis, eggplant caviar, taramosalata, falafels, empanadas, spring rolls, summer rolls, jiaozi, tempura, eggplant zaalouk, taktouka, anticuchos, roasted or fried dried fruits such as adobong mani, kabab, cocas… The list is so long!
A table of Lebanese mezzés will always include tabbouleh.
What is the origin or tabbouleh?
In Arabic, the word tabbouleh means “seasoning” or “spiced” but some consider that this word also originates from the Chaldean language of Babylon in which “t”, “b”, “l” are the root of the word “to mix”.
Be careful not to mix “Lebanese tabbouleh” with “North African tabbouleh”! North African tabbouleh is the one that can be found at the deli section of French supermarkets.
This “North African tabbouleh” whose main ingredient is semolina (couscous), has absolutely nothing to do with the Lebanese version which only includes a small amount of bulgur.
How to make tabbouleh
Bulgur is a cereal, originating from the Middle East, from which the envelope was removed, which is steamed, dried and then crushed while the couscous originates from North Africa and consists of spherical granules obtained from the processing of durum wheat semolina.
Herbs, parsley and mint are, along with lemon, the intrinsic elements of Lebanese tabbouleh.
The traditional Lebanese recipe asks for a very large quantity of flat parsley in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. So it is not the bulgur that dominates, but the chopped herbs. Be careful not to use curly parsley for this recipe, as its taste is too strong and slightly bitter.
I let you discover the freshness of this salad that I could honestly eat for every meal.
- 5 firm tomatoes , diced
- 5 scallions , coarsely chopped
- 3 bunches flat parsley
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 4 tablespoons bulgur
- 2 lemons , pressed
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
Add bulgur into a large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes to soften.
- Remove stems from parsley and finely chop with a knife or scissors. Cut the mint and finely chop in the same way.
- When bulgur is soft, drain and squeeze well. Add everything, as well as the tomatoes and onions, into a salad bowl.
Pour lemon juice and olive oil over the salad. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.