What meal is complete without a hearty bowl of tabbouleh alongside it? As a staple all across the Eastern Mediterranean, cuisines from many different countries all feature this dish on their menus – from Turkish and Cypriot food right through to traditional Iraqi fare. Reem Al Bawadi serve up this salad as part of their diverse Lebanese offerings – and it's no surprise it's the most popular dish on the menu. But what makes tabbouleh such a mainstay?
Healthy with a side of hearty
Tabbouleh works perfectly as part of a meze, with a range of other dishes to dip into alongside. At its core, it's simple – parsley, bulgur wheat and tomato are all chopped up and thrown together before being dressed with lemon juice, salt and olive oil. What could be easier than that?
As a meat-free dish, it's popular with vegetarians. But there's all sorts of health benefits at play here too. Bulgur wheat is packed with fibre and protein, onions are anti-oxidants, and parsley contains twice as much iron as spinach does. It's also full of vitamin C to boot.
An enduring classic
Rewind back to the Middle Ages and you'll find the first early forms of tabbouleh. People in the Arabian Peninsula and across the Middle East used to eat herbs as a core part of their diet – hinting as to why they're still such an important part of the cuisine today. It originated in the Lebanese and Syrian mountains, probably through locals making the most of the harsh climate's limited ingredients.
The version we know and love today dates back to around the mid-1800s. Farmers grew salamouni wheat in eastern Lebanon, which was processed to make bulgur, and got added to tabbouleh to pad it out. Different countries have their own versions, each with contrasting ratios of ingredients. Some swap out the tomatoes for pomegranate seeds instead, for an extra burst of vibrant sweetness.
Part of a balanced dinner
In a meze, tabbouleh sits pretty alongside its other popular companions. Deep-fried falafel balls, fresh fattoush, grilled halloumi and creamy hummus all make great accompaniments. But tabbouleh works as a side to almost anything – or as a main in its own right, as a refreshing salad.
Reem Al Badawi offer their traditional Lebanese take on tabbouleh up alongside a host of other classic dishes. Get it to go alongside fried kibbeh or skewers of lamb kafta, or just enjoy tabbouleh as a light lunch on a hot day. This versatile dish always knows how to please.