Tabouleh and the Food of Souk el Tayeb Market

Wednesday 11 November 2015

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One of my favourite salads is Tabouleh.   I first ate it at a party my brother was having.  I fell in love with it . . .  it's that beautiful colaberation of flavours . . .  lemon, mint, parsley, spring onions, tomatoes . .  cucumbers . . .  and then the bulgar wheat.  It's a perfect combination of flavours and textures!  Chewy, crunchy, tart, herby.  I love it all!

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I was recently sent a new Cookery Book to review.  Leanese Home Cooking, by Kamal Mousawak.   Even though I am a trained chef, I am at heart a home cook.   I adore home cooking . . .  and I especially enjoy the home cooking of various countries and cultures . . .  recipes that are enjoyed by families.  I think that if you really want to experience a country, you want to experience their food.    Lebanese cuisine is one that I am not overly familiar with, and so I was, understandably excited to be asked to review this book, which has been published by Quarry books.

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The author Kamal Mousawak, grew up around the orchards of Jeita, just outside of Beirut.  He learned to cook by watching his family and neighbors plant herbs in their gardens, harvest almonds and citrus fruit from their trees, and transform these wonderful ingredients into the fresh and distinctive cuisine of home.

Kamal has toured the fartherst regions of his country, discovering yet more neighbors, each with differing religions and traditions . . . all sharing a common land and fare.

This delightful cookbook is an invitation to explore these traditions, bringing the authentic, primarily vegetarian meals of Kamal's homeland onto our own dining tables, no matter how far they may be from the orchards of Jeita!

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The book is divided into a number of chapters including:

Kibbeh - As Kamal states nothing has as many regional variations and interpretations of Kibbeh, a very finely minced mixture, mainly of meat or fish, or in vegetarian versions, pumpkin, lentils, or potatoes, along with fine bulgur, seasoned with onion, salt, pepper and fragrant herbs.

Grains - Bulgar and Frikeh recipes

Mujadara - Lentils, beans and rice

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Stews - a variety of delicious vegetable stews using beans, lentils, spinach, etc.

Vegetables -  often cooked in traditional Lebanese cuisine as dishes to stand on their own, often incorporating forgotten vegetables such as taro root or swiss chard . . .  fresh veg, stuffed veg, etc.  (This is one of my favourite chapters.  I love my veg.  Who would gecome excited at th sight of fried cauliflower with Tarator Sauce!!)

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Salads and Breads - Beginning with Tabouleh and ending with little meat pies.  Most scrumptious indeed!

Good Friday Food - Stews, Noodles and Soup

Souk and Street Food - one of the favourite eating experiences of most countries . . .  I love street food.   Sauces, pastes, hummus, dips and falafel, etc.

Sweets - you got to have something sweet.  Cake, soup, etc.   Sesame Bars. Rice Pudding!

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This book is beautiful,  containing with well written recipes, loads of tips and information on ingredients and techniques, history of certain foods and traditions and interspersed on it's pages lots of fabulous photos!

Of course the proof of every pudding is in the eating and so I made the tabouleh recipe from the book.

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Tabouleh is almost a national symbol of Lebanon.  It's fresh and healthy and colourful.  In an article about Tabouleh for Lebanon's first National Tabouleh Day, Dr. Antoine Dahar compared it to Lebanon:  "A mix of diverse ingredients, where one can distinguish every single one but can never separate one from the other.  Just like Lebanon . . .  filled with diversity and differences, all distinguisable, but never separable!"

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Serves 4

A delicious recipe for a traditional Lebanese salad, adapted from the book "Lebanese, Home Cooking, by Kamal Mouzawak. 

2 medium ripe tomatoes
2 TBS (20g) fine grind bulgur
1/2 bunch mint
1 fresh green chile pepper
4 bunches of flat leaf parsley
1/2 bunch of scallions (spring onions)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
juice of 2 lemons
6 TBS olive oil
Romaine lettuce leaves, white cabbage leaves, or fresh grape leaves for serving

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Finely dice the tomatoes.  Place them into a large bowl and add the bulgar.   Stir so that the bulgar is well mixed with the tomatoes and is able to soak up their juice.

Chop the mint and chile pepper and add this to the bowl.   Finely slice the parsley and add to the bowl, covering up the mint to help prevent it from turning black.  Finely chopp the spring onions, sprinkle with a bit of pepper and a bit of salt.  Rub them a bit with the fingertips so that they soften.  Add to the bowl.  (DO NOT STIR)

Do not mix the tabouleh until ready to serve.  Start mixing with a spoon and a hand, to be sure the tabouleh is well mixed.  Add the lemon juice and oilive oil.  Season to taste with salt.

Note - A tabouleh should not be dry, but it should not be soupy either.   Serve straight away with romaine, white cabbage, or fresh grape leaves.  Tabouleh does not wait!

Note * -  I added half an English cucumber, washed, seeded, unpeeled and coarsley chopped

Lebanese Home Cooking, by Kamal Mousawak
Release Date November 5th
Published by Quarry Books
ISBN  978-1-63159-037-5
$24.99 USA/ £15.99  UK/ $29.99 CAN

Printed Lamanated Hard cover, colour photos, full index, 160 pages

I really like this book.  The recipes are well written and most use ingredients which are not really difficult to find. I found the techniques and tips which are included throughout to be very helpful and informative!  For instance I would never have thought to rub the chopped spring onions with salt to soften them.  That's home cooking!

Many thanks to Quarto for sending me this copy for review.   Although I was sent the book free of charge, I was not required to write a positive review.  Any and all opinions are my own.


  1. It was really good Monique. I had never allowed the bulgur to soak up the tomato juices like that before. That was a really handy tip, and made a really huge flavour difference! xo

  2. Very healthy, and also very delicious. I love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern vegetable dishes.

    1. Me too westessex! There is so much more in this book that I want to try! xo


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