Much of what gets called Tabbouleh bears little resemblance to what Lebanese Tabbouleh is. When I moved to France and began eating in traditional Lebanese restaurants, I was served bowls heaped with fresh herbs, a few tomato chunks, and very, very few bits of bulgur (cracked wheat.) Unlike what is served as Tabbouleh in many places – which is often a bowl heaped with bulgur with a few tomatoes and bits of parsley and mint flecks in it – the cracked wheat is meant to be more of a garnish, and I’ve come to love traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh, which is a green, herbal salad with a touch of spices.
I am familiar what the traditional dish is supposed to be like – curiously, one of the places I used to often go for dinner when I was at university in Adelaide was a Lebanese restaurant that did really authentic food so I ate a lot of proper tabbouleh in my early 20s! When I moved to Paris, I discovered the much less authentic version which is typically made with couscous and is more grain than vegetable heavy and definitely only has a touch of parsley and mint. It’s easily available in supermarkets and traiteurs in France and I always have some in my fridge when I am there. I actually love this version a lot and even included a recipe for it in my book!
It’s been a while since I’ve had proper tabbouleh (though we have a great Middle Eastern restaurant in walking distance which serves it) so I was interested to have a go at making my own. What I found this time around was that it was a little too parsley-heavy for my (clearly tainted) palate! I guess it’s a matter of personal preference – but also I was eating this salad as a side to less-than-traditional foods (when it’s part of, say, a falafel bowl or pita sandwich, it works better). I made 1/2 the recipe (and found it was enough for around 6 serves, personally) and actually tripled the amount of bulghur I used and still could have used more.
The flavours of this are beautiful and fresh though and it’s a gorgeous looking salad. Definitely one to make as per the recipe them play around with the ratios that work for you!
Get the recipe for David Lebovitz’s Tabbouleh on page 96 of My Paris Kitchen. There’s also a version here.
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Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “My Paris Kitchen” for review purposes. I was not asked to write about the book, nor am I being compensated for doing so. All opinions 100% my own.
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