Few dishes are more closely associated with Lebanese culture than tabbouleh and you won’t find a fresher, healthier or tastier food anywhere in the world. Here we will take a brief look at the history of this amazing food as well as some of the secrets behind its popularity.
Refreshing, healthy and delicious, tabbouleh is often referred to as a salad though many Lebanese view it as a dish in its own right. Regardless of how you define it, tabbouleh is one of Lebanon’s most popular foods and is perfectly suited for those long, hot Mediterranean summers.
The name tabbouleh comes from the Arabic word ‘taabil’ which means to season or spice and tabbouleh is thought to have first been eaten in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria more than 4000 years ago. Ancient scholars believe that herbs known as ‘qadb’ formed a crucial part of the Arab diet throughout the Middle Ages and were used as the basis of many popular dishes, including tabbouleh.
Variations of tabbouleh can be found throughout the Middle East and beyond, from the Armenian ‘eetch’ to the Turkish ‘kisir’ right through to the Cypriot ‘tambouli’. Lebanese immigrants even introduced a version of tabbouleh to the Dominican Republic known as ‘tipile’.
As with most Middle Eastern food, the secret to authentic tabbouleh is based on fresh local ingredients and while there are many different versions, the following should be considered essential elements.
Bulgur – One of tabbouleh’s most recognizable ingredients, bulgur is made from wheat berries that have been partially ground, cooked and dried. The best wheat for making bulgur is grown in the mountains of Lebanon, Syria and nearby Jordan and is known as salamouni.
Parsley – Tabbouleh’s greens are provided mostly in the form of fresh parsley; however, mint, green onions and even cucumber are sometimes added as well.
Tomatoes – No tabbouleh is complete without a healthy dose of finely chopped tomatoes and the fresher they are the better.
Seasonings – Quality olive oil is an absolute must as is a serious splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you are looking for a little extra kick add a clove of garlic or two.
Tabbouleh isn’t just delicious; it is extremely good for you as well! Apart from the vitamins and minerals provided by the fresh greens, tomatoes and lemon juice, bulgur is a fantastic source of protein, fibre and essential minerals. Olive oil comes with countless benefits as well, from helping to lower blood pressure right through to reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
Few foods have won over the hearts of their fans quite like tabbouleh, particularly in Lebanon where there is even a national day celebrated in its honour. The first Saturday of July each year is known as National Tabbouleh Day, with people getting together to enjoy this beloved dish in homes, parks and restaurants all over the country.
Life simply isn’t complete without a bowl of tabbouleh every now and again. If you’d like to try authentic Lebanese tabbouleh made the way it was meant to be, drop by Manoosh or order online, because when it comes to fresh and healthy Lebanese food we simply can’t be beat.