You have always been the kind of person I aspired to be- a true artist. You write, you paint, you’re outstanding in your chosen field (contract law... but I’ll forgive.) and you’re the only person I can safely say could equal my mother in the kitchen... and being Jewish, that’s blasphemy.) You’re like another mother to me (and anyone who knows me knows that my parents picked pretty amazing ‘extra’ parents for me... I get my good taste in friends from them.)
I first tasted this traditional Lebanese dish at your home, where many of my best childhood memories came from- your gorgeous art-crammed apartment overlooking the Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens, the smell of Oil paints wafting from your studio, the ferns that filled your home exuding green loveliness, Vivaldi tinkling quietly in the background, and the sounds, smells, and colours of amazing cooking invading every corner of the house. I’ve been doing my bit to replicate it ever since- be it helping to squeeze the lemons when I was too young to be allowed near knives, and more recently, not only making it from scratch, but slowly adapting the recipe with all sorts of tricks.
1 large bunch parsley
1 spring onion
2 med. Tomatoes
1/3 cup burghul (cracked wheat, available in most health food sections of the supermarket.)
1 lemon (or more- I’m a sour junkie, so it’s more like 2, but 1 is safe to begin with.)
2 tbsp olive oil (do not skimp! Dry Tabbouli is asking for a hacking cough.)
Salt to taste
Bharat to taste (Bharat, meaning ‘India’ – like the Mahabharata, the ‘story of India’ is a mix spice- there are a billion varieties, and it’s best to experiment with all the different types until you find one you like, I’m a fan of half Iraqi Bharat and half Lebanese... but where I’m staying they had no Bharat, so we made some from all that was available:
¼ tsp ground pimento/all spice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground black pepper
(I’d have liked to add ¼ tsp ground cardamom and ¼ tsp ground
coriander seeds... but they were old and manky, and it’s fresh spices or
1. Wash the parsley roughly
2. Pick the leaves off the stalks- if you are impatient like me you can hold the parsley upside-down and pinch the stalk and pull down- it takes practice, but it means you're pulling the leaves off the stalk instead of cutting them off individually.
3. Wash the parsley more carefully (or better yet, with one of these washy-spinny-things.)
4. Chop the parsley- the finer the better. My trick is to take a small handful of parsley at a time, and fold it- packing the parsley as tightly as possible, and then cut the messy end of the bundle off, and chop the rest of the bundle finely, then re-fold the chopped parsley and repeat until it’s as finely chopped as you can muster. It's time consuming, but it's totally worth it.
5. Boil water, and pour 1/3 a cup over the 1/3 cup of burghul- let sit, until the burghul has soaked up all the water, then wash the burghul (so it’s cold) and pour the lemon juice over it. DO NOT put the lemon juice straight on the burghul before washing... If the burghul is hot then all the vitamins and most of the taste of the lemon juice is wasted. A tea strainer/ fine sieve is generally best to wash the burghul.
6. Chop the spring onions and tomatoes as finely as possible
7. Mix the parsley, tomato and spring onions- add olive oil, salt and Bharat.
8. Nom Nom Nom. (translation: enjoy.)
Tabbouli is Full of Iron, and vitamin C. Ladies; you know what I’m talking about: this is the ultimate Aunt Irma Iron-Loss cure. (And if you don’t know who Aunt Irma, you need to watch the IT Crowd- specifically Season 1 Episode 6. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w9eoZtnJSA i’d embed it, but it’s been ‘removed by request’)
Thankyou so much Eve, For Everything.
All my love,