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That is very true. But if you see the two as different recipes - one, a more authentic, refreshing zingy accompaniment and the other more as a tasty and filling starchy side dish then there is room for both.

For a BBQ, I would go with the second - unless you plan to have lots of different salads/sides as well.

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The key, I think, to tabbouleh, is to refuse the temptation to stuff it full of bulgar wheat or some other grain (many recipes encourage this as, I think, a means of bulking out the dish, which is not the point).

It is said that your generosity is measured by how green your Tabbouleh is. :biggrin:

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As for favorite ways for making Tabbouleh...how far afield counts? In SE Turkey in the area around Antep and Adana, spitting distance from the Syrian border, it's called "kısır." I'd say it's probably half bulgur half other ingredients. The other ingredients are lots of parsley and olive oil but also tomato, green onions, mint, garlic if you like, and what really sets it off: red pepper paste. I've also had kısır with a bit of fennel greens in it (the wild stuff, not the bulb fennel which has almost tasteless leaves). The tartness is either in the form of lemon juice or pomegranate molasses. (If pomegranate molasses is used, you need to make sure and get a really sour one, not the Qortas brand which is quite sweet to my taste.) Or you can do a combination of both.

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It is very difficult to find limes here. Lemons are everywhere. Where did you get the idea that lemons are unheard of in the Middle East?

I think our citrus is the best in the world, maybe with the exception of Italian blood oranges.

Reddevil, where are you from in the Middle East? Could it be that you thought your tree was a lime tree and in fact it was a lemon tree. There are green lemon trees.

I love tabouleh. In fact there is a new Lebanese restaurant that opened in my neighborhood. We are going to go eat there after Passover. And, I will definitely have tabouleh. I like it because is tastes great and also because it is usually made without tomato. I am allergic to raw tomato.


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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This thread is killing me. I'm not sure I can even make it through to lunch time without at least lemons and parsley, if not the whole thing!

The Lebanese woman who taught me to make tabouli (or -eh) always said "you want to show the parsley," but I like some of the other expressions upthread (esp the generosity one, I hadn't heard it before).

I tend to be a purist about ingredients although I do like it made with couscous in place of bulgar. Hadn't thought about quinoa but that's worth a try, too.

Thanks for solving my dilemma about lunch, though. Only three more hours.

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Oh No not the Tabouli thread again!

For the millionth time, Tabouli ingredients are as stated by many above:

- Flat Parsley

- Green Onions

- Mint leaves

- Tomatoes (Rock hard)

- Fresh Lemon Juice

- Extra Virgin Olive Oil

- Salt & Peper

- Burghul (fine and crunchy do do not over soak)

That's it. Any other addition or substraction of ingredients is not Tabouli but a variant. Also note that Tabouli is not a dish which keeps for few days and should be eaten as soon as ready.

The best Tabouli is to be found in Lebanon. The further you go out of Lebanon, the more soggy is the Bulghur and the more they splash on Burghul.

Some people in Ehden/Zghorta/Koura add a pinch of powder chilli which does lift the taste but check the acidity of your Lemons before using red powder chilli as the taste may fight.

Syrian - Jordanian - Turkish...etc Tabouli is a far cry from the real Lebanese one and generally it is accepted that the acid Test of a Lebanese restaurant is to try the Tabouli and the Hommos.

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The best Tabouli is to be found in Lebanon. The further you go out of Lebanon, the more soggy is the Bulghur and the more they splash on Burghul.

Some people in Ehden/Zghorta/Koura add a pinch of powder chilli which does lift the taste but check the acidity of your Lemons before using red powder chilli as the taste may fight.

Syrian - Jordanian - Turkish...etc Tabouli is a far cry from the real Lebanese one and generally it is accepted that the acid Test of a Lebanese restaurant is to try the Tabouli and the Hommos.

I wish you would explain your expertise in Middle Eastern food.

How can you make such a blanket statement that you can only find good Tabouleh in Lebanon? The acid test of any Middle Eastern restaurant is its meze.


Edited by Swisskaese (log)

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I don't think I have seen lemons growing in the middle east (all we had in our garden were lime trees). I could be wrong though, as I am not an expert on the origins of these citrus fruit. At the end of the day it is a matter of personal taste (as opposed to what's traditional or not), and to me limes just have bags more personality than lemons.

I have to say...I almost diagree with you on all points. Lemons are everywhere in Lebanon. Limes not so much. Lemons IMO are more classy, vibrant, complex and delicious than limes when it comes to mediteranean or middle eastern food.

I agree with Nicolia. In Lebanon these are the tabbouli ingredients. Unfortunatly there is a growing trend these days in Lebanese restaurants and homes both in Beirut and in the US to eliminate bulgur! Last time I was in Beirut and having dinner at a family friend's house, I noticed that the lady of the house who prepared the meal did not but bulgur in her tabouli. I thought she forgot and pointed it out. She says "oh, sweetie, no one misses it and I like it more like that" :wacko: . I simply whispered to my mom "She made a very good parsley salad, but a tabouli it is not". Mom agreed.

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Nicolai,Hello....

I agree with you that tabbouleh originated in Lebanon. I think you will also agree with me though that the entire Middle-East is an area in which recipes cross borders far more easily than do people. I think you will also find that even though tabbouleh itself originated in Lebanon, the dish cannot be fully historically Lebanese - tomatoes of course having been introduced not from the Middle East but from the New World.

I also agree with you that some of the best tabbouleh in the world is to be found in Lebanon. That does not, however, mean that one can not find superb tabbouleh in Al Quds (Jerusalem to many), Jaffa, Uhm Al Fahm, Akko, and yes, even in Tel Aviv's Carmel Market as well as in London and Paris, Cyprus. In fact, I recall a marvelous tabbouleh served on the Island of Corfu. As a perhaps counter-example, there is no question but that couscous as we know it today as a dish (e.g. couscous complet) originated in the Maghreb but that some of the finest couscous restaurants in the world are today to be found in Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and indeed even Rome.

As to the questions you put earlier, I have indeed dined on dishes in nearly all of the regions, countries and broad geographic areas to which you refer. True, I have avoided dining in several of those because carrying (among others) an Israeli passport, I seem to have failed in developing an overt wish to suicide.

With all due respect, and believe me, I do have respect for many things, I suggest that we keep in mind that Nicolas Chauvin was rather a laughing stock. I also suggest that Nestor Roqueplan was wrong when he swore in the cathedral at Chartres that "only a Frenchman will ever be able to make sauce beurre blanc". Chauvinism may have its place in real-politik but I think it best put aside when it comes to the culinary world.


Edited by Daniel Rogov (log)
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Thank you Mr. Rogov for a well balanced and informative post regarding this issue. We can all disagree but there is no need to throw punches.

Nicolai-

My post was not arguing whether tabouli is Lebanese originally or not. It was refering mainly to blanket statements like this one

The further you go out of Lebanon, the more soggy is the Bulghur and the more they splash on Burghul.

Like Rogov pointed out, the country of origin really does not mean that much. Case in point I would add the amusing intro to the "Cassoulet" recipe in James Peterson's "Glorious French Food". In Cassoulet country in the SW of France he had the worst version ever, made with canned beans canned hot dogs and little else. So yes, maybe Tabouli is Lebanese in origin, but saying that no other place makes it right is a blanket statement that makes no sense and diminishes the value of your post.

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All of this arguing has no value BECAUSE: the best Tabbouleh in the world is made in my humble kitchen, in New Jersey, by me, a Syrian/Italian. My daughter assures me it is thus,, and I have accepted the accolades with grace. I have also been assured by many friends and family, that the best tabbouleh in the world is served in their mother's kitchens, as well. Tabbouleh is not some licensed recipe, it's a peasant dish, and has minor variations that do not detract. I disagree with Nicolai, who states that there is only one place that makes it to perfection, unless he admits to the truth. HIS mother makes the best, just like everyone else's mother does! :smile:

I might add, no pepper in my tabbouleh! I've eaten many a tabbouleh in Lebanese homes as well, and never enocuntered pepper in it that I could discern, so I'm flummoxed. Don't think I'll be testing Nicolai's version, though. I have my accolades, and why mess with perfection? :raz:

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The key, I think, to tabbouleh, is to refuse the temptation to stuff it full of bulgar wheat or some other grain (many recipes encourage this as, I think, a means of bulking out the dish, which is not the point). Really great tabbouleh is, as you say, primarily about the parsley and the way in which it mixes with the tomato, lemon juice, seasoning, olive oil and mint.

Very interesting.... amazing post... it brings me back to what my friend Mary Ann Joulwan, of Lebanese descent has to always say. She keeps reminding people that tabouli is about the parsley and the mint, tomatoes, olive oil and lemon juice and not just the bulgar.

My father is Palestinian...however, my Tata was influenced by neighbors in Lebanon and her tabouli is is just like this. The parsley is so finely chopped that it feels like powder snow sifting through your hands. It is never overloaded with bulghur, just enough to add interest and texture.

And I do swear that when I am beginning to feel poorly, a good dose of tabouli has as magical a fix for me as the proverbial chicken soup.

:biggrin:

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Speaing of Tabouli .. my fave recipe for it lies in the book Zov. You must find this cookbook as it is truly wonderful

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Speaing of Tabouli .. my fave recipe for it lies in the book Zov.  You must find this cookbook as it is truly wonderful

Welcom to eGullet, Trentinla!

Please tell us more about the book Zov. Where is it from, where is it published, and/or how do you know about it? Maybe everyone else knows about this book already, but it's a new one for me.

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I'm bumping this topic up because of the recent discussion about the subject of Tabouli/Tabbouleh etc., in the topic "I'm Conservative about - - -"

I was going through the blog links on my blog to see if all the links are still viable and came across this page on the site of David Lebovitz.

This recipe for Tabbouleh sounds more interesting than the recipe I posted - it includes some spices or a mixture of Lebanese 7-spices that I had forgotten about.

I used to drive down to Glendale where one of the markets specializing in Lebanese foods, sold a mix that was packaged in the store and was a perfect mix.

I am definitely going to prepare this recipe - also make a batch of pita bread in which to stuff it.

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Andie - I saw that David Lebovitz blog post and was intrigued by the way the herbs were shredded as opposed to chopped. Please report back if you make it as this seems a perfect dish for warm weather rotation.

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I couldn't find a topic on this subject ...

What are your preferences for preparing and for ingredients for tabouleh?

.... Shel

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I make tabouleh a lot, and when I make it I make a lot so we have it on hand for a few days. Here are a few things I do:

  • Use more parsley than most recipes call for.

  • Squeeze out the cooked/rehydrated bulghur with a towel as hard as you can.

  • Avoid tomatoes (and their water) and use diced red bell peppers, raw or roasted, instead.

  • Make a dressing instead of dumping various ingredients over the top (oil, lemon, salt, etc.).

  • Add both lemon zest and minced preserved lemons to every batch along with the lemon juice.

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  • Squeeze out the cooked/rehydrated bulghur with a towel as hard as you can.

  • Avoid tomatoes (and their water) and use diced red bell peppers, raw or roasted, instead.

  • Make a dressing instead of dumping various ingredients over the top (oil, lemon, salt, etc.).

Have you tried rehydrating the bulghur in the dressing, and eliminating the water?

How about oven-dried tomatoes?

What do you put in your dressing?

Thanks!

.... Shel

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(1) Have you tried rehydrating the bulghur in the dressing, and eliminating the water?

(2) How about oven-dried tomatoes?

(3) What do you put in your dressing?

(1) I have, and I found that the bulghur gets weird -- gummy, less toothy -- if you omit the hot water step. If you have time, you get an even toothier bulghur if you just soak it in room temp water for a while.

(2) I never have them around, but, sure!

(3) Salt, black and Aleppo pepper, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice.

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I know that we have discussed this topic before but no idea where.

I use a LOT of mint. TONS of mint. No tomatoes. And no bell peppers...but I might try that...

Dressing is lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper.

I made Tabbouleh long before I became at all interested in cooking. Used the basic recipe in Claudia Roden. A Book of Middle Eastern Food.

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At least in Lebanon, tomatoes are compulsory. Tabbouleh should not be bone dry, in fact it's often very moist with a small pool of dressing, which is usually not more than sumac, garlic, a lot of lemon, and olive oil. Also, in Lebanon, preserved lemons to my knowledge aren't really a thing.

Tabbouleh should properly be eaten like a lettuce wrap, it's always served with whole leaves of romaine.

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I have a recipe (from Scheherazade Cooks!) that calls for tomatoes, cut into quarters or eighths and gutted, to be used as scoops to eat the tabbouleh. Romaine vs tomato may be a regional thing.

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