Often mistaken as being Moroccan, tabbouleh is originally from the Middle East and is commonly served as part of a meze. Especially dear to the Lebanese – the dish is so loved, it has even been granted the honour of having its own celebration: National Tabbouleh Day! So widely popular is tabbouleh, this humble dish is seen as a common cultural link between the divided people of this once war-torn nation; reflecting the diversity of the Lebanese people through its diverse ingredients. Seemingly, for the Lebanese at least, this makes tabbouleh something worth celebrating.
For the rest of us, however, it is just a salad.
So whilst traditionally part of a meze, in Western convention it is more likely to be served as an accompaniment to a main meal such as a tagine, stew or even a barbeque. Typically made with bulgur wheat, tabbouleh can also be made using couscous. Whilst not entirely authentic, I prefer using couscous as I find bulgur wheat a little chewy and, to my mind, it can weigh a good tabbouleh down. I have also recently rediscovered the joys of quinoa, which would also make a great base for a tabbouleh.
The great thing about tabbouleh is its adaptability – provided you have some fresh herbs and lemon, you can virtually use any ingredients you have available. There’s really only one “rule” to consider when assembling your tabbouleh (and even that isn’t set in stone) and that’s the ratio of couscous to herbs. Traditionally the couscous is actually one of the secondary ingredients and not, as is common practice, the main ingredient – this honour actually falls to the fresh herbs. Traditionally the herbs should make up at least 70% of the overall tabbouleh, but this is rarely the case in Western interpretations of the dish, where the ratio is often reversed in favour of the couscous. In truth though, it is not really that important – all that really matters is making the dish to your own tastes and preference. After all, your tabbouleh doesn’t symbolise the aspirations of the Middle East, it is just dinner.
For the recipe of perfect couscous, please click here.
If you would like to serve tabbouleh with some delicious Moroccan dishes, please click here