by Heba Saleh

Tabbouleh – have you heard of it? Over the past few years, tabbouleh has achieved the status of  widely recognized ethnic food in America, right up there with hummus and pita bread. It is rare to encounter a cosmopolitan restaurant with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern focus that doesn’t offer tabbouleh on its mezze (appetizer) menu. Tabbouleh (sometimes called tabbouli) is considered an important national dish in Lebanese cuisine, and is also popular in other countries in the Levant. Did you know that the Lebanese observe a National Tabbouleh Day in Lebanon? The word tabbouleh comes from the Arabic word ‘mtabeleh‘, which means ‘seasoned’, implying that the dish comes alive through the flavorful seasonings.

Though the nuanced ways of making tabbouleh vary based on region and family tradition, it always includes the colors of the Lebanese flag – green, white and red. You might be surprised to learn that the original tabbouleh recipe has been passed down for many generations, and dates back to ancient Phoenician culture. Today, the age-old recipe for tabbouleh is being resurrected as a ‘superfood’ in many health food stores throughout the United States, and it is presented all over the world as part of a healthy meal. Traditionally served as a part of the mezze (appetizers) before a meal, tabbouleh can be eaten year-round, but it is especially fitting in a spring menu. There are also different ways of eating it. You can simply use a fork or scoop it up by hand in small amounts using pieces of cut-up romaine lettuce.

I remember the first time I tried tabbouleh at a restaurant in Egypt as a child. My taste buds were pleasantly surprised to taste a salad made with zesty parsley and fresh mint, in addition to my all-time favorite ripe tomatoes. After tasting the goodness of freshly chopped greens and bulgur, I registered it in my mind as one of the most interesting salads out there. I’m convinced that it’s one of the best ways to use fresh parsley in the kitchen, which just so happens to be rich in vitamins A, C and K, and packed with antioxidant-rich flavonoids. And to think that Americans dismiss parsley as mere garnish! This is why when I see tabbouleh salad in the Whole Foods deli section, I inwardly smirk – it’s often full of bulgur (sometimes even couscous is used instead), which completely overshadows the herbs’ delicate taste. That’s not authentic. Traditionally prepared tabbouleh makes parsley the star of the dish, where the flavorful leafy green dominates. Keep that in mind next time you think about buying it instead of making it at home.

Tabbouleh is traditionally made with soaked bulgur (“burghul” in Arabic), which is made from wheat. Bulgur is thought to be man’s oldest recorded use of wheat: “Bulgur is made by soaking and cooking the whole wheat kernel, drying it and then removing part of the bran and cracking the remaining kernel into small pieces” (Purcell Mountains Farms). If you are gluten-intolerant, you can use brown rice couscous, or regular rice as a substitute. To make a grain-free version, lightly steamed cauliflower “rice” has worked well.

As for the greens, tomatoes, and onions used, the fresher they are, the better the dish will taste. You’ll want to pick up flat-leaf Italian parsley, firm but ripe tomatoes, and fragrant fresh mint (dried mint won’t do). If you can get your hands on locally-produced organic ingredients, your tabbouleh will surely be more flavorful and nutritious. Don’t even think about chopping the herbs in the food processor — the speed will bruise their delicate structure, and they will get mushy and lose their liquid. The extra time it takes to chop the herbs will make for a much tastier tabbouleh. Make sure to refrigerate the mixture for a couple of hours before seasoning it so that the flavors meld together without letting the tomatoes lose their juice.

Tabbouleh wouldn’t be complete without enough seasoning! For spices, I added the traditional Lebanese blend of cinnamon and allspice, as well as a dash of ground cardamom, a generous amount of high-quality olive oil, fresh lime juice, salt, and pepper, all to taste. In fact, taste-testing the salad is a step listed in the instructions!

Tabbouleh is best if served immediately. It stays fresh for a couple of days, but it’s definitely not as crisp as it is on the first day it’s made.

بقلم‭ ‬هبا‭ ‬صالح

التبولة‭ ‬–‭ ‬هل‭ ‬سمعت‭ ‬عنها‭ ‬من‭ ‬قبل؟‭ ‬لقد‭ ‬أصبح‭ ‬طبق‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬على‭ ‬مدار‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬السنوات‭ ‬معروفًا‭ ‬بشكلٍ‭ ‬واسع‭ ‬على‭ ‬أنّه‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬الأطباق‭ ‬الشعبيّة‭ ‬الشهيرة‭ ‬في‭ ‬أمريكا،‭ ‬وخاصةً‭ ‬عند‭ ‬تقديمه‭ ‬مع‭ ‬الحمص‭ ‬والخبز‭ . ‬ومن‭ ‬النادر‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تجد‭ ‬مطعمًا‭ ‬عالميًا،‭ ‬يركز‭ ‬على‭ ‬منطقة‭ ‬البحر‭ ‬الأبيض‭ ‬المتوسط،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الشرق‭ ‬الأوسط،‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يضع‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬في‭ ‬قائمة‭ ‬مُقبّلاته‭. ‬التبولة‭ (‬والتى‭ ‬تُسمى‭ ‬التبولي‭ ‬أحيانًا‭) ‬تُعتبر‭ ‬طبقًا‭ ‬قوميًا‭ ‬مُهمًا‭ ‬في‭  ‬المطبخ‭ ‬اللبناني،‭ ‬وهي‭ ‬مشهورةٌ‭ ‬أيضًا‭ ‬في‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬بلاد‭ ‬الشام‭ ‬الأخرى‭. ‬هل‭ ‬تعلم‭ ‬بأنّ‭ ‬اللبنانين‭ ‬يحتفلون‭ ‬بيومٍ‭ ‬وطني‭ ‬للتبولة؟‭ ‬ولقد‭ ‬أتت‭ ‬كلمة‭ ‬‮«‬تبولة‮»‬‭ ‬من‭ ‬الكلمة‭ ‬العربية‭ ‬‮«‬مِتبل‮»‬،‭ ‬والتي‭ ‬تعني‭ ‬مليء‭ ‬بالتوابل،‭ ‬وهذا‭ ‬يعني‭ ‬أنّه‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬إعداد‭ ‬الطبق‭ ‬بإضافة‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬التوابل‭.‬

على‭ ‬الرغم‭ ‬من‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الطرق‭ ‬الدقيقة‭ ‬لإعداد‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬تعتمدُ‭ ‬بشكلٍ‭ ‬كبيرٍ‭ ‬على‭ ‬تقاليد‭ ‬المنطقة‭ ‬والعائلة،‭ ‬إلا‭ ‬أنّها‭ ‬تشتمل‭ ‬دائمًا‭ ‬على‭ ‬ألوان‭ ‬العلم‭ ‬اللبناني،‭ ‬الأخضر،‭ ‬الأبيض،‭ ‬والأحمر‭. ‬وربما‭ ‬تندهش‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬علمت‭ ‬أن‭ ‬الخلطة‭ ‬الأصليّة‭ ‬للتبولة‭ ‬قد‭ ‬تم‭ ‬توارثها‭ ‬عبر‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الأجيال،‭ ‬ويعود‭ ‬تاريخها‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الثقافة‭ ‬الفينيقيّة‭ ‬القديمة‭.‬

‭ ‬أما‭ ‬اليوم،‭ ‬فتُقدم‭ ‬خلطة‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬القديمة‭ ‬بصفتها‭ ‬‮«‬طعامٌ‭ ‬فائق‭ ‬الفائدة‮»‬‭ ‬في‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬المتاجر‭ ‬الصحيّة‭ ‬في‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬أنحاء‭ ‬الولايات‭ ‬المُتحدة،‭ ‬ويتم‭ ‬تقديمها‭ ‬في‭ ‬جميع‭ ‬أنحاء‭ ‬العالم‭ ‬كجزءٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬وجبة‭ ‬صحيّة‭.‬

جرت‭ ‬العادة‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬تقديم‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬كجزءٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬المُقبّلات‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬الوجبة‭ ‬الرئيسيّة،‭ ‬ويُمكن‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تُؤكل‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬في‭ ‬أى‭ ‬وقت‭ ‬أثناء‭ ‬العام،‭ ‬ولكنّها‭ ‬تبدو‭ ‬مناسبةً‭ ‬تمامًا‭ ‬فى‭ ‬قائمة‭ ‬الطعام‭ ‬الخاصة‭ ‬بالربيع‭. ‬وهناك‭ ‬العديد‭ ‬من‭ ‬الطرق‭ ‬لأكلها‭. ‬فيُمكنك‭ ‬استخدام‭ ‬شوكة‭ ‬أو‭ ‬لفها‭ ‬بكميّات‭ ‬صغيرة‭ ‬مُستخدمًا‭ ‬قطعًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬الخس‭ ‬الروماني‭.‬

أنا‭ ‬أتذكر‭ ‬المرة‭ ‬الأولى‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تناولت‭ ‬فيها‭ ‬التبولة،‭ ‬كان‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬في‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬مطاعم‭ ‬مصر‭ ‬أثناء‭ ‬طفولتي‭. ‬لقد‭ ‬سعدت‭ ‬براعم‭ ‬التذوق‭ ‬في‭ ‬فمي‭ ‬بتذوق‭ ‬سلطة‭ ‬لذيذة‭ ‬مُعدة‭ ‬من‭ ‬البقدونس‭ ‬الحار‭ ‬والنعناع‭ ‬الطازج،هذا‭ ‬بالإضافة‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬طعامي‭ ‬المٌفضل‭ ‬دائمًا‭ ‬وأبدًا‭ ‬وهو‭ ‬الطماطم‭ ‬الطازجة‭. ‬

بعد‭ ‬تذوق‭ ‬روعة‭ ‬الخضروات‭ ‬المُقطعة‭ ‬والبرغل،‭ ‬سجلتها‭ ‬في‭ ‬مذكرتي‭ ‬كواحدةٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬السلطات‭ ‬إثارةً‭ ‬للاهتمام‭. ‬وأنا‭ ‬مقتنعةٌ‭ ‬أن‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬هى‭ ‬واحدةٌ‭ ‬من‭ ‬أفضل‭ ‬الطرق‭ ‬لاستخدام‭ ‬البقدونس‭ ‬في‭ ‬المطبخ،‭ ‬والذي‭ ‬تصادف‭ ‬أنّه‭ ‬يحتوي‭ ‬على‭ ‬فيتامنات‭ ‬أ،‭ ‬س‭ ‬وك‭ ‬المليئة‭ ‬بمضادات‭ ‬الأكسدة‭. ‬

والتفكير‭ ‬بأنّ‭ ‬الأمريكين‭ ‬يخطؤن،‭ ‬ويستخدمون‭ ‬البقدونس‭ ‬فقط‭ ‬كنوعٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬المُقبّلات‭! ‬وهذا‭ ‬ما‭ ‬جعلني‭ ‬أتجمد‭ ‬في‭ ‬مكاني‭ ‬حين‭ ‬رأيت‭ ‬سلطة‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬في‭ ‬قسم‭ (‬المأكولات‭ ‬الكاملة‭ ‬الجاهزة‭)‬،‭ ‬إنّها‭ ‬غالبًا‭ ‬مليئة‭ ‬بالبرغل‭ (‬وأحيانًا‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬استخدام‭ ‬الكُسكس‭ ‬بدلًا‭ ‬منه‭) ‬والذي‭ ‬يطغى‭ ‬تمامًا‭ ‬على‭ ‬طعم‭ ‬الأعشاب‭ ‬الرقيق‭. ‬هذه‭ ‬ليست‭ ‬أصليّة‭. ‬فالتبولة‭ ‬التقليدية‭ ‬تجعل‭ ‬من‭ ‬البقدونس‭ ‬نجم‭ ‬الطبق،‭ ‬حيث‭ ‬يُهيّمن‭ ‬النبات‭ ‬الورقيّ‭ ‬الأخضر،‭ ‬المُفعم‭ ‬بالطعم‭ ‬الجميل‭. ‬ابقِ‭ ‬هذا‭ ‬في‭ ‬ذهنك‭ ‬عندما‭ ‬تفكر‭ ‬في‭ ‬شراء‭ ‬التبولة،‭ ‬بدلًا‭ ‬من‭ ‬إعدادها‭ ‬في‭ ‬البيت‭.‬

عادةً‭ ‬ما‭ ‬تعد‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬باستخدام‭ ‬البرغل‭ ‬المصنوع‭ ‬من‭ ‬القمح‭. ‬ويُعتقد‭ ‬أن‭ ‬صنع‭ ‬البرغل‭ ‬هو‭ ‬أقدم‭ ‬شيء‭ ‬يستخدمه‭ ‬الإنسان‭ ‬فيه‭ ‬القمح‭ ‬لصنع‭ ‬شيء‭: ‬‮«‬يُصنع‭ ‬البرغل‭ ‬من‭ ‬خلال‭ ‬نقع‭ ‬وطبخ‭ ‬نواة‭ ‬القمح‭ ‬الكاملة،‭ ‬ثم‭ ‬تجفيفها‭ ‬وإزالة‭ ‬جزء‭ ‬من‭ ‬النخالة،‭ ‬وبعد‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬تكسير‭ ‬النواة‭ ‬المُتبقية‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬قطع‭ ‬صغيرة‮»‬‭ (‬مزارع‭ ‬جبال‭ ‬بورسيل‭). ‬إذا‭ ‬كنت‭ ‬من‭ ‬الذين‭ ‬لا‭ ‬يحتملون‭ ‬تناول‭ ‬الجلوتين،‭ ‬فيُمكنك‭ ‬استخدام‭ ‬كسكس‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬البني،‭ ‬أو‭ ‬الأرز‭ ‬العادي‭ ‬كبديل‭. ‬ولكي‭ ‬تقوم‭ ‬بإعداد‭ ‬تبولة‭ ‬خالية‭ ‬من‭ ‬الحبوب؛‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬القرنبيط‭ ‬‮«‬الأرز‮»‬‭ ‬المُعرض‭ ‬للبخار‭ ‬قليلًا،‭ ‬قد‭ ‬أثبت‭ ‬فاعليته‭ ‬الشديدة‭.‬

أما‭ ‬بالنسبة‭ ‬للخضروات‭ ‬فكلما‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬الطماطم‭ ‬والبصل‭ ‬المُستخدم‭ ‬طازجة‭ ‬كلما‭ ‬كان‭ ‬كان‭ ‬مذاقُ‭ ‬الطبق‭ ‬أفضل‭. ‬يفضل‭ ‬التقاط‭ ‬البقدونس‭ ‬الإيطالي‭ ‬الأخضر‭ ‬ذي‭ ‬الأوراق‭ ‬المُسطحة،‭ ‬والتقاط‭ ‬الطماطم‭ ‬المُتماسكة‭ ‬وليس‭ ‬اللينة،‭ ‬وقطع‭ ‬النعناع‭ ‬الطازج‭ ( ‬لن‭ ‬يُجدي‭ ‬النعناع‭ ‬المُجفف‭). ‬إذا‭ ‬كنت‭ ‬تستطيع‭ ‬الحصول‭ ‬على‭ ‬مكوناتٍ‭ ‬عضوية‭ ‬مُعدةً‭ ‬محليًا؛‭ ‬فسوف‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬التي‭ ‬تُعدها‭ ‬ألذ،‭ ‬ومُفعمةً‭ ‬بالطعم‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬وأكثر‭.‬

لا‭ ‬تُفكر‭ ‬أبدًا‭ ‬في‭ ‬تقطيع‭ ‬الخضروات‭ ‬باستخدام‭ ‬الخلاط‭ ‬أو‭ ‬مُعالج‭ ‬الطعام،‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬السرعة‭ ‬سوف‭ ‬تُؤدي‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬تكسير‭ ‬هيكلها‭ ‬الحساس،‭ ‬وسوف‭ ‬يصبح‭ ‬شكلها‭ ‬غير‭ ‬متناسقٍ‭ ‬ومُتداخل،‭ ‬وسوف‭ ‬يجعلهم‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬يفقدون‭ ‬سوائلهم‭ ‬أيضًا‭. ‬كلما‭ ‬استغرقت‭ ‬وقتًا‭ ‬إضافيًا‭ ‬في‭ ‬تقطيع‭ ‬الخضروات،‭ ‬كلما‭ ‬كانت‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬أكثر‭ ‬جمالًا‭. ‬تأكد‭ ‬من‭ ‬وضع‭ ‬الخليط‭ ‬في‭ ‬الثلاجة‭ ‬لمدة‭ ‬ساعتيّن‭ ‬قبل‭ ‬إضافة‭ ‬التوابل‭ ‬إليها‭ ‬لكي‭ ‬تختلط‭ ‬النكهات‭ ‬مع‭ ‬بعضها،‭ ‬دون‭ ‬جعل‭ ‬الطماطم‭ ‬تفقد‭ ‬عصيرها‭.‬

لن‭ ‬تبدو‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬كاملةً‭ ‬بدون‭ ‬إضافة‭ ‬التوابل‭ ‬الكافية‭!. ‬وبالنسبة‭ ‬للتوابل،‭ ‬فأنا‭ ‬أقوم‭ ‬بإضافة‭ ‬المزيج‭ ‬اللبناني‭ ‬التقليدي‭ ‬من‭ ‬البهارات‭ ‬والقرفة،‭ ‬إضافةً‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬طبقٍ‭ ‬من‭ ‬حب‭ ‬الهال‭ ‬المطحون،‭ ‬وكميّة‭ ‬كبيرة‭ ‬من‭ ‬زيت‭ ‬الزيتون‭ ‬عالي‭ ‬الجودة،‭ ‬وعصير‭ ‬الليمون‭ ‬الطازج،‭ ‬والملح‭ ‬والفلفل،‭ ‬وبعد‭ ‬كل‭ ‬ذلك،‭ ‬يجب‭ ‬عليك‭ ‬تذوقها‭. ‬في‭ ‬الحقيقة،‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬اختبار‭ ‬الطعم‭ ‬موجودٌ‭ ‬كخطوةٍ‭ ‬مُنفصلة‭ ‬في‭ ‬التعليمات‭.‬

من‭ ‬الأفضل‭ ‬أن‭ ‬يتم‭ ‬تقديم‭ ‬التبولة‭ ‬في‭ ‬الحال‭. ‬وعلى‭ ‬الرغم‭  ‬من‭ ‬أنّها‭ ‬تبقى‭ ‬طازجةً‭ ‬لمدة‭ ‬يومين،‭ ‬إلا‭ ‬إنّها‭ ‬لن‭ ‬تكون‭ ‬بنفس‭ ‬جمال‭ ‬و‭ ‬طعم‭ ‬اليوم‭ ‬الأول‭ ‬من‭ ‬إعدادها‭.‬