Tabbouleh is one of my favourite fall-back dishes, since it takes about 15 minutes to make and is so fresh and full of different flavours. It’s another Levantine mezze dish which has quickly found its way to dinner tables in the West. The Levant covers a huge area, from Syria and Jordan to Northern Iraq and Turkey.

The Levant

Here’s a prettier map of the same area:

Tabbouleh varies from country to country, with different ingredients and types of bulgur wheat. My favourite is the Lebanese variety, with twice the amount of parsley than bulgur!

I’ve made this in the past using the bulgur wheat readily available in most supermarkets, but for this one I decided to use an extra fine one which I got from a Turkish shop. It’s about the size of couscous and you could definitely substitute couscous if that’s easier to get.

Left to right: baby plum tomatoes, sumac, ground cinnamon, ground cumin, extra fine bulgur, rose water essence, lime juice, lemon juice, kalamata olives, parsley, basil, coriander, feta cheese, cucumber and pine nuts

Serves 4


2 handfuls baby plum tomatoes

1/2 cup bulgur

1/2 bunch parsley (whatever measurement you use, this is best when you use as much (or even more!) parsley as bulgur wheat)

small bunch coriander

1/2 cucumber

1 pack feta cheese

a handful of pine nuts

small handful kalamata olives, chopped

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tbsp rose water essence

2 tsp sumac powder

1-2 tsp ground cinnamon

1-2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground nutmeg

salt and pepper

Put the kettle on to boil for the bulgur wheat. You’ll need twice as much water as wheat. When the water’s boiled, pour it over the wheat and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

After the wheat has soaked for 5 minutes, add salt and pepper and run a fork through it to make sure the water is being absorbed and also to break up the grains. Don’t add too much salt since feta cheese and olives are both salty.

Bulgur wheat cooking

While the wheat’s cooking, chop the parsley, coriander, cucumber and tomatoes as finely as you can and add them to a large serving bowl.

Add the chopped feta, olives and pine nuts and then season with the spices. Add the lime juice first, then the lemon juice, rose water essence and olive oil.

When the wheat has cooked through, add it to the salad and mix thoroughly. Taste it and add more seasoning or flavours if needed.

Tabbouleh is best eaten cold or at room temperature so put the salad into the fridge for about half an hour before serving. This also lets the flavours mix well.

Enjoy with warm pitta bread or just on its own!


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