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Friday, January 14, 2011

Tabbouleh (Lebanese and generally Middle Eastern) (vegan)

The classical Middle Eastern parsley salad in its (almost) traditional version. For a more spicy and posh version, with cinnamon and all-spice added, check out Saveur's version. Our approach wanted to stick to the original, but there is still, indeed, a twist ( a mischievous and bald move I might add when dealing with lack of an ingredient). To keep it short, the stores were out of fresh mint leaves. And the recipe called for bulgur wheat soaked in warm water. So.... we soaked it in a strong mint tea.... :D... and were amazed of how much the wheat tasted like the real thing. And mixed through the salad, almost no one would suspect almost anything ;). And, given the Orient's long and astonishing tradition with tea brewing, we might even cheekily add that our version is even more traditional than the ones who soak the wheat in plain water.
Returning to the terrific salad, it should be pointed out that it's packed with vitamin C, some fiber and the lovely flavors of lemon, caraway (also known as Persian cumin or meridian fennel) and mint. One extra bragging point (except the mighty ingeniousness of the tea-soaking technique) is the fact that in spite of their spice-centered enhancing of the recipe, the people from Saveur totally missed the caraway fruits part. Not that we wouldn't admire them a lot but... the more we do, the prouder we feel about this. :)

Ingredients: (serves 2)
  • 1/2-3/4 lemon (to squeeze juice from)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes (150 g)
  • 1 ratio of fresh parsley (100 g)
  • 2 handfuls (6-7 tablespoons) wheat bulgur (found quite often in supermarkets at the seeds, cereal and natural products shelves)
  • 3-4 fresh green springs of green onion
  • 4 mint tea-bags :D
  • some salt
  • 2 teaspoons caraway fruits (which are usually called seeds but it's wrong)
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil

So, first thing's first. Brew some extra strong mint tea by placing 4 tea bags in 500 ml hot water. Leave it covered. Next, chop the parsley and green onions and put them in a bowl.

Next, uncover the tea and place in it the 2 handfuls of bulgur wheat:

You may leave the tea bags inside too. Also, during the time you'll tend to the other ingredients and let the grain soak, if you notice the tea has gone too cold and the bulgur is still hard you may reheat the whole pot and let soak some more. 

Next, sprinkle some salt and squeeze the lemon over the chopped greens:

Then, start chopping the tomatoes as finely as possible:

Transfer over the parsley and mix well (and yes, at this point we spread the salad between two bowls because one wasn't enough any more... and yes that thing in the bottom right is the camera's string :D):

Check seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Add the olive oil and mix well. Check the bulgur, it should be softened enough to eat by now. Drain it (the tea is still good you shouldn't throw it away, it even matches the dish). Add it to the salad (and marvel into its mint taste :D):

Then, add the caraway fruit:

Make sure both the wheat and caraway are equally divided between ratios (if preparing in separate bowls if your kitchen equipment is as limited as ours):
(yes, we did it again - with the camera string :D)

Mix again and it's done. And lovely. Dig in!

P.S: Look how wonderful the different consistencies are:

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