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Lebanese Tabouli E-mail
Written by Whole Grain Gourmet   
Sunday, 30 December 2007 19:00

Lebanese tabouli

There are many obvious reasons why restaurants are able to coax flavor from food in ways that we mere mortals can only aspire to. Yet, 800 degree ovens and 35,000 BTU burners aside, home cooks are often unable to reproduce some of the subtle flavors found in even the most simple of restaurant dishes.

I’ve made tabouli at home many times. I enjoy the fresh flavors of the herbs, the texture of bulgur wheat, the delightful combination of olive oil, lemon juice and kosher salt on the tomatoes. All of these elements blend gracefully as an ideal compliment to a savory kibbeh or grilled seafood.

Although I never openly acknowledged it, my tabouli always fell short of my favorite Lebanese cafe’s. While their version used less bulgur wheat than mine, there was something more subtle that distinguished its flavor. It had that elusive, aromatic quality that characterizes Lebanese food.

This weekend, I prepared a Lebanese Tabouli recipe submitted by a member. I was surprised to see cinnamon listed among the ingredients. I was further surprised to find that the subtle flavor that had long eluded me in other tabouli recipes was, in fact, the cinnamon.

My western palate, accustomed to cinnamon in sweetened baked goods, did not anticipate how the cinnamon would contrast with the garlic and lemon. The flavor combination produces a very subtle, distinctly Lebanese character. The three combine to harmoniously create a delicate, balanced flavor that is typical of the tabouli I have enjoyed in some of my favorite Middle Eastern cafes.

We enjoyed the tabouli along with some excellent Southwestern Shrimp, a very simple preparation that will surprise you. The mild kick of the chili powder works perfectly with the delicate flavors of the tabouli.

Lebanese Tabouli


  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat (fine bulgur preferred, if available)
  • 1 1/2 cups minced parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup minced green onion
  • 2 tomatoes, diced


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. Pour boiling water to cover bulgur wheat and allow to soak covered for 30 minutes. Drain any excess water. Allow to cool to room temperature
  2. Toss bulgur with the parsley, green onion, mint, and tomatoes.
  3. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and crushed garlic.
  4. Pour the dressing over the bulgur mixture and toss until well coated. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.


  • Bulgur wheat should be rinsed well before using.

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