Tabbouleh is a salad that hails from the Middle East, made with bulgar wheat, tomatoes, chopped parsley, mint, lemon juice, shallots, spices and olive oil. You’ll find tabbouleh in numerous Middle Eastern regions, including Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and more. There are numerous ways of preparing this classic salad, but here’s the right way, as decreed by one of our favourite chefs. We’ve also added (and adapted) a recipe for pomegranate chicken kebabs – which we think would be pretty darn good on a barbeque.
For the Tabbouleh
90g fine bulgar wheat
4 ripe, firm medium tomatoes (600g)
2 medium shallots (6g)
4 large bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley (160g)
2 bunches fresh mint (30g)
1 tsp ground allspice
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
120ml top-quality olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Put the bulgar in a fine sieve and place under the cold tap until the water runs clear and most of the starch has been removed. Transfer it to a bowl.
Cut the tomatoes into 0.5cm dice (a small serrated knife is the best tool for this job) and add to the bowl, along with any juices. Chop the shallots as finely as you can and add to the bowl.
Now get ready to chop. Take a few stalks of parsley and pack them together tightly. Use a large, very sharp knife to trim off the end of the stalks, then chop the remaining stems and leaves as finely as possible and no wider than 1mm. (If you can’t achieve that first go, go over the chopped parsley again, this time with the heel of the blade.) Add the parsley to the bowl.
Pick the mint leaves, pack a few together tightly, chop as finely as the parsley and add to the bowl. Finally stir in the allspice, lemon juice to taste, olive oil, salt and pepper. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve at room temperature.
For the chicken kebabs
1 lemon, juice only
A pinch of ground cumin
A pinch of cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses (or fresh pomegranate seeds!)
8 chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
A pinch of sumac – to be added when serving.
Mix the lemon juice, spices, garlic and pomegranate molasses / seeds in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil to bring the mixture together as a paste and season with a little black pepper. (You could also try adding the pomegranate seeds afterwards over the kebabs and salad and skip the whole molasses thing. Why not add a little bit of crumbly goat’s cheese? Yummy!)
Add the chicken to the marinade mixture, turning to coat the chicken thighs in the mixture. Set aside to marinate for at least 3 hours.
To cook the chicken, soak 4-8 wooden skewers in cold water for 10 minutes, then shake dry.
Thread the marinated chicken onto skewers. Heat a griddle pan over a high heat, then cook the chicken skewers until golden-brown and cooked through – but still juicy.
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