Tabbulah / Tabouleh / Lebanese Salad

tabouleh 01092008119
I had the great pleasure to have been friends with Shokry Mohamed [& the same link auto-translated in English]. A wonderful Egyptian dancer and musician; who died last month - and who I'll miss. He introduced me to Egypt and I came to love the food of the Arab world too.

Last weekend I had a course in Arab Cuisine - with Fathy Sayed; Eygtian chef (and another friend of Shokry's). We made a number of things - among which was the Labanese salad known as Tabouleh (or tabouli, tabbouleh, tabbulah).

It's tasty, refreshing for summer - and healthy too.

The base is more or less couscous; the rest consists of tomato, parsley, mint (!!), dill, onion and assorted spices.


  • 1 c couscous (or use bulgar, or quinoa)
  • 1 1/4 c water, boiling (a little more for bulgar or much more for quinoa [2c])
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 tomatoes, brunoise (maybe 5)
  • 2 small onions (fresh, if you can get 'em) (fine brunoise)
  • 200 grams parsley (7 oz)
  • 100 grams mint (I use hierbabuena; spearmint) (3,5 oz)
  • 25 grams dill (fresh, preferably)
  • 1 t cumin (ground; fresh-ground would be good)
  • 1 t cinnamon (surprise!)
  • 2 t salt (don't be afraid - it's needed to balance the next ingredient)
  • 2 limes (juice of)
  • 100 g olive oil (extra virgin)
  • Pour boiling water over couscous, add 2 T oilve oil, stir, cover, wait (minimum 1/2 hour, better yet, make it 2 hours) If using quinoa you ought to rinse it first to eliminate its natural bitterness
Now comes the "hard work" part
  • Cut tomatoes into 1/4 (1/2 cm) cubes (brunoise)
  • Cut onions into 1/8" (1/4 cm) cubes (fine brunoise)
  • Chop parsley leafs very very fine (use one of those curved vegetable chopping knives)
  • Chop mint very very fine (we use hierbabuena which I believe would be "spearmint" in engish)
  • Chop dill very very fine
Back to the easy stuff
  • Drain couscous if it's not soaked up all the water (but it will have)
  • Add lime juice - stir
  • Add cumin, cinnamon & salt - stir
  • Add tomato, onions - stir
  • Add parsley, mint & dill - stir
  • Check for seasoning; taste it. There ought to be a slight taste of salt next to the lime flavor. See if you can detect a hint of cinnamon and that mysterious cumin flavor.
  • Add olive oil - stir

  1. Brunoise = diced = small cubes (but not canned diced tomatoes; you want good ragular little pieces with distinct sides). Nor do they have to be fanatically cubic; I end up with lots of trianglar pieces too. There is an art to getting them to be regularly sized.
  2. It's really a tomato and parsley salad with some other stuff added so make sure you have enough tomato in it - so that it's prominent
  3. The greens (dill, parsley, mint) are chopped super fine; that's an important trick. I've been told that it's so much work that Tabouleh is usually bought from shops or the greens are bought already chopped.
  4. Use a really sharp knife so that you're cutting the greens, not crushing them.
  5. Traditionally it's left to sit for a day before eating - to let the flavors blend. These days, in our "have it now" consumtion-oriented world that's less common
  6. Decorate, for presentation, with some more brunoised tomato
  7. Add (spear)mint to tea for a refreshing (Egyptian) taste (somewhat off topic, but still a good idea)
update: 13 junio - less cumin
update: 2008 - correct my misunderstanding about couscous being (not) pasta - it is. And to change the picture.

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