The Perfect Lebanese Tabbouleh

“…only burghul wheat, no other cereal. Tabbouleh and couscous do not go together – they are complete strangers.”

Kamal Mouzawak

At a big party a decade or so ago, we put the guests to work producing various dishes for a grand buffet lunch. This famous herby Lebanese salad was made most successfully by one novice cook.

Since then we’ve been growing great billowing pots of fabulous flat leaf parsley and enjoying the heavenly herbiness of this emerald green salad bejewelled by ruby tomatoes.

The important thing is not to let this salad be served too dry – make more dressing if you need to.

Tabbouleh is also incredibly useful as a bed or garnish for all kinds of starters.

What is the difference between burgul and couscous?

Burgul is made from the groat (the whole grain…. remember John o’ Groats?) of the wheat. It’s then boiled, dried and cracked. 

Couscous is a sort of pasta made from semolina. Semolina is the coarse, purified ‘middlings’ of durum wheat. ‘Middlings’ are half milled grains. Durum wheat is a type of wheat, but it’s not the same as ‘common’ wheat. 

Burgul has a coarser texture (the coarser the better) and a nuttier flavour

For how to make the perfect couscous, follow this link.

Recipe for The Perfect Lebanese Tabbouleh

Serves 12


  • 350g/12oz flat-leaved parsley – NB do NOT attempt to make this with curly parsley, it will be a complete failure
  • 50g/2 oz bunch of mint
  • 110g/4 oz/½ cup fine burghal wheat
  • 1 large beefy tomato in very good condition
  • 2 spring onions
  • one romaine lettuce with about twelve leaves
  • 120ml/½ cup olive oil – more if it seems to need it
  • juice and zest of a large lemon
  • smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Strip the mint leaves off their stalks (discard stalks), and discard any thick parsley stems (the fine stems contain a lot of flavour). Wash the leaves if you think they need it. Set aside.
  2. Put the burghal into a large bowl.
  3. Take the core out of the tomato and slice and dice to look like rubies amidst the emerald-green leaves. Add to the bowl.
  4. Snip over the spring onions including an inch or so (5 cms) of the green.
  5. Mix the olive oil and the lemon juice and zest, and season it, to make a dressing.
  6. Just before you are due to serve chop the leaves, taking care to chop across just once, working your way down the mound of green (if you over-chop you will lose a lot of juice and flavour).
  7. Add to the bowl. Mix. Dress.
  8. For ease, serve on a big platter on individual lettuce leaves for people to help themselves.
how to make the perfect tabbouleh

“It’s almost impossible to dislike the bright, hard-hitting flavours of dishes like tabbouleh and baba ghanoush, which are eaten in all five of the countries comprising the Levant.”

Note: The Levant comprises Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“Tabbouleh, another typical and well-known salad, is a veritable jamming session for finely chopped mint and parsley in which bulgur wheat, spring onions and tomatoes add some rhythm.”

Both quotes above, Mina Holland, The Edible Atlas
This post is dedicated to Elizabeth Bennett.

And some music to chop to….

As Mina Holland notes, tabbouleh is a veritable jamming session, so here is another musical jamming session, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, with Prince et al.

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