The stor y of tab­bouleh

An es­sen­tial part of the Le­banese ta­ble, tab­bouleh has gained in­ter­na­tional fame in re­cent years. Fresh and tangy, it is a true re­flec­tion of Le­banon in a dish, as Zeinab Jeam­bey from the Food Her­itage Foun­da­tion ex­plains

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Re­gional va­ri­eties of the pop­u­lar dish

De­rived from the word tat­bil, mean­ing “to sea­son,” the recipe for tab­bouleh re­volves around its main and most im­por­tant in­gre­di­ent, pars­ley. What is key is how fine the pars­ley is chopped and how bal­anced the sea­son­ing and in­gre­di­ents are.

The most com­mon recipe for tab­bouleh in­cludes pars­ley, toma­toes, mint, onions and fine bul­gur wheat mixed and tossed with a sea­son­ing made from lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pep­per. Pome­gran­ate juice and sour grape juice are also of­ten used to give an acidic fla­vor to the tangy salad.

How­ever, tab­bouleh dif­fers con­sid­er­ably from one re­gion to another, from a sim­ple change in sea­son­ing to a to­tally dif­fer­ent set of in­gre­di­ents.

SAF­SOUF Her­mel - Her­mel District

Fine bul­gur wheat and spices are stir-fried with olive oil and ghee un­til the bul­gur wheat soaks all the fat. The mix­ture is then set aside while dried wal­nuts are stir-fried with a gen­er­ous amount of ghee. The pars­ley and other veg­eta­bles (less than the usual quan­tity) are then mixed with the bul­gur wheat. Both lemon oil and pome­gran­ate mo­lasses are used in the sea­son­ing. The salad is eaten with either ten­der, raw vine leaves or fresh cab­bage leaves.

To try saf­souf, con­tact Khadi­jeh Chahine (71 579547).

ERYNGO TAB­BOULEH Al Barouk - Shouf District

Eryngo or qor­saaneh is a wild edi­ble plant, which grows abun­dantly in our moun­tains in early spring. Qor­saaneh is a sub­sti­tute for the pars­ley in this recipe, mak­ing it a won­der­ful sea­sonal and healthy op­tion.

To try qor­saaneh tab­bouleh, con­tact Adel Hakim at Al Aqed Guest­house and Restau­rant in March and April (71 172270).

WIN­TER TAB­BOULEH Mtein - Metn District

This is yet another sea­sonal vari­a­tion, which in­cludes lit­tle or no pars­ley. It is made of bul­gur wheat soaked in luke­warm wa­ter, cooked chick­peas, awarma (pre­served meat in sheep fat) and sea­soned with lemon, olive oil, salt and pep­per. This tab­bouleh is of­ten en­joyed with boiled cab­bage leaves.

To try win­ter tab­bouleh, con­tact Ghada Al Qon­tar at Mtein Guest­house (03 659198).


This is a fu­sion be­tween tab­bouleh and the Ar­me­nian dish itch. Coarse bul­gur wheat is used in the prepa­ra­tion of this salad, the quan­tity of which is greater than the amount of veg­eta­bles. Tomato paste is also in­cor­po­rated into the mix, along with the sea­son­ing of tra­di­tional tab­bouleh.

To try tab­bouleh kezzebeh, con­tact Rose Bi­tar (70 010390).

TAB­BOULEH WITH GREEN FAVA BEANS Jdaidet Mar­jay­oun - Mar­jay­oun District

This de­li­cious tab­bouleh is most com­monly made in spring when green fava beans are in sea­son. The beans re­place the toma­toes that have not yet been planted and har­vested.

To try this dish, con­tact Ma­jed Makhoul in April (03 903060/ 07 830913).


A high-pro­tein ver­sion of the tra­di­tional tab­bouleh, this recipe in­cor­po­rates split red lentils that have been soaked overnight. Less bul­gur wheat is used here than in other recipes.

To try this vari­a­tion, con­tact Bas­sima Zei­dan (71 383649/05 330181).

71 731437, food-her­

Photos: The Recipe Hunters

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