One Hundred and One Mezze: 22. Tabbouleh

I don't know how did I manage to go over a year of blogging without a recipe for Tabbouleh. After Hummus and the inaccurately named Baba Ghanoush, Tabbouleh is The Levant's third biggest culinary export to the world.
Like all other dishes that moved from local to international status, the tangy parsley-based salad has been bastardised and adapted in endless ways. My friend Tammam has had a "tabbouleh" dish from a supermarket in Geneva withe the ingredients: couscous, raisins, onion, chicken and basil!
Admittedly, not all adapted version are as bad. In most cases of "supermarket tabbouleh" the main ingredients of the original dish are the same but the balance is completely skewed towards Bulgar. Authentic Tabbouleh should be three quarters parsley and one quarter everything else.
In my recipe I tried to use as accurate quantities as I could, so any body trying the recipe can get a taste and feel of what an authentic tabbouleh is. To give tabbouleh its characteristic spicy edge I like to use finely ground black pepper. You can use allspice, mixed spice (baharat) or as they do in Aleppo, Aleppo peppers! 

Edit 29/09/2014
In my recipe I use fine Bulgur wheat which you need to buy from Middle Eastern shops. The grain is very small so you don't need to cook it. Just soak in water for 30 minutes will do. However Bulgur bought from high street supermarket has medium size grain and will not be soft enough just soaked. You will need to boil it for 10 minutes then drain and let cool.

Here is my tabbouleh recipe:
Flat leaf parsley 250g (before trimming the stalks) Mint leaves 30g Fine Bulgar wheat 50g Small red onion One tomato Sumac 1tsp Black pepper 1/2tsp Lemon 1-2 according to taste Salt Olive oil 4-5 tbsp
Start by washing and soaking the Bulgar wheat in cold water for 30 minutes.
The secret to nice crisp tabbouleh is a very sharp knife to chop the parsley without bruising the leafs. Chop the parsley, mint, onion and tomato finely. Drain the Bulgar and squeeze the extra water. Squeeze the lemons.
Mix all the ingredients. And leave for around 30 minutes before serving.
We like to serve tabbouleh with lettuce in Syria. We use lettuce leaves to make small wraps full of the tangy salad.



Unknown said...

A lovely post on a beautiful salad. I love learning from the informations you give. The garden is full of parsley and I have the last of some homegrown tomatoes, so guess what salad we will be having tonight!

Bana said...

I can imagine why it took you so long to post this recipe. Probably it's because it wasn't easy. This is a salad that hugely depends on fine tuning and tasting while in the making. You just have to know how Tabbouleh should taste and look like. That could make it difficult to come up with accurate measures. But I'm happy you finally did as I feel offended when I see a carton box on a supermarket shelve with Tabbouleh on it!!!

I just have one remark, unless unavailable, I prefer to use green onion in Tabbouleh.


SHAKUEY201 said...

For some reason or another, my family's recipe calls for finely chopped romaine lettuce as well.

Kano said...

Nothing better than home grown salad!

I get so affended as well!
I should have mentioned spring onions alternative in my post. Thank you for reminding me. I actually prefer it with red onions but I know many people who prefer it with spring onion.

Interesting, I havn't seen tabouleh with lettuce before. My mum occasionally add very finely chopped cucumber, but I am not too keen on that.

tasteofbeirut said...

I am so glad you posted this; more people should be aware of what a real tabbouleh is as opposed to the fake one!
What irks me is the one made with couscous.

Tajjawad said...

i love your tabbouleh recipe very nice.

TAJ Kuala Lumpur

Kano said...

Don't get me started on couscous tabbouleh. It gets me every time!

Welcome to my blog. I am gald you like the recipe and I hope you will be a regual visitor.

Brian Reyes said...

Right, I'm trying this at the weekend. I remember eating this in Jordan but I never thought of making it until now.
Greetings from Gibraltar

Kano said...

@Brian Reyes

Welcome to my Blog! I hope you try Tabouleh (or even tried it already) and you like it.

I took a quick look at your blog. Looks really great. I need to go through properly and try some recipes.

You now need to add some Eastern Mediterranean recipes.

mona said...

I like the addition to Sumac. My Syrian-Jordanian mother doesn't add in Sumac or red onions but she does include cucumber, green onions and finely chopped Romaine Lettuce.

I really like your blog!!!

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog! I am glad you like it.

Recipes vary a lot from family to family. I think most people use green onion instead of red onions.

Anonymous said...

you are a genius! thank you for this fresh natural balance of flavours. your generosity in passing this on to others is greatly appreciated.

Kano said...


Thank you very much for the nice words. I am really glad you liked the recipe.

Anonymous said...

we do serve it on lettue leaves or baby cabbage sometimes.. but yours looks just like a flower of healthy stuff.. looks great in the picture! I'm used to soak the borghol in lemon juice instead of water.. it adds the lemony zest and sour taste without having much extra sauce at the bottom.. in fact I soak it with lemon + dry crushed mint (if I'm not adding fresh ones)+ a pinch of powdered non spicy chili+ the salt.. this combination stays well in the fridge and lasts for long, especially if a bit of olive oil is added to the top.. I use it also to prepare tableh salqiniyeh if you even heard of it and the turkish version of lentil soup.. it stays handy in many recipes.. I'm trying the addition of sumac today but I'm not quite sure of the pepper.. :)

Kano said...

I like the idea of soaking Burghul in lemon juice. I will try this next time.

What is Tabouleh Salqiniyeh? Never heard of it

Anonymous said...

it's actually تبلة سلقينية
I'll tell you what and how just incase you'd like to try it..because the ingredients are the best way to describe it..
i learnt it from my friends from Salqin.. north Syria.. it's a delicious sour chili dish..manily done with extra spicy chili paste but you can always find a way around it with less spicy chili.. mainly.. all ingrdients in this dish are as finely chopped as in Tabouleh.. you start with chooped onion in a pan with warm olive oil, after the onion start to cook you add the burghul (better if already soaked with lemon and you can add the other spices in the soaking mixture or after over the warm oil) so you mix the Burghul in the oil with the onion, pomegranate molasses, red chilli paste (debs flaifleh) or you use the chili powder, tomato paste, cumin, salt and dry rushed mint, a tiny bit of each depending on the quantity you're preparing. I never cook with exact measurings so you'll have to improvise in adding those to taste. so now you have a warm mixture with a texture similar to kebbeh nayyeh. on the side, you should have prepared your finly chopped fresh : tomatoes, alot of parsley, lettuce, some cabbage, some cucumber, and fresh spring onion.. you add this micture to that (half and half) and tadaaaa! eaten cold like salads..(cabbage and cucumber are optional)
P.S: when you soak with lemon, Burghul get way too sour because it absorbs the juice easily.. so find your way to a balanced mixture usually will be fine if Burghul is washed well in water :)

Kano said...


Thanks for the recipe. I will give it a go.

Kano said...

Thank you very much for reading and commenting. Sorry to remove your comment but I have strict policy of not allowing any commercial links in the comments. Sorry again

Anonymous said...

This recipe sounds perfect, exactly what I'm looking for. I had the most amazing Tabbouleh in a restaurant in Aleppo a couple of years ago and I've been wanting to replicate it to some degree. Thank you

peps said...


Kano said...


cheers. hope you had a chance to make it.

You said...

What a great site, many thanks for sharing. Looks like a middle eastern food banquet this bank holiday weekend for me!

Kano said...


Welcome to my blog. Hope you liked the food.

Mikey18 said...

I made it today for a Red Cross welcome lunch we had for Syrian families that have arrived to live in our hometown Wellington New Zealand. It was great and they enjoyed it!! We had over 400 people together - Syrians that just arrived, Red Cross volunteers and our families. A happy safe occasion with kids being kids and playing with each other and parents talking and laughing. Thank you for your wonderful recipes! Michael

Post a Comment