Summer Salad Special – Tabbouleh

14 Jul

Come summers and all I can think of is summer dresses, hats, trendy shades, lots of coolers to drink and plenty of salads. No wonder all that soup in my refrigerator is still untouched. Especially in this part of the world (Bahrain), where summers suddenly have a whole new definition and meaning. To experience the scorching heat bearing down upon you even for a minute can drain you of all the energy. It is only liquids and salads that can help you feel refreshed and have your energy pumping again.

As I do restaurant reviews, it has become almost like a habit to sample various middle eastern cuisine and then try to decipher the flavour. In my mind,  I try to keep the flavours alive in my mind, of all those that make a striking impression. One such thing that I order each time when I go out dining to a middle eastern themed restaurant is a very special salad – Tabbouleh. Tabbouleh in arabic literally translates as “little spicy”. An interesting thing to note about this salad is, though it is a basic combination of burghul, parsley, mint, tomatoes and spring onions,  every restaurant tries to take this to a different level by doing something extra special with it. It would be an extra ingredient or a special seasoning. A typical dressing would be of lemon, salt ( sometimes pepper) and olive oil but I have had a spicier version and sometimes a sweet one or even a vinegar-y tangy one too.

During one such visit I was enamoured by a particular version of tabbouleh and decided to re-create the flavours by trying it at home. The first time I made it, it  turned too soggy to eat, but I tucked in anyways. 🙂 I took down notes (only mentally,ofcourse) in the process and decided to give it another go. It turned out to be perfect timing because one of my favourite food bloggers, Anamika had made an event announcement. On her blog, Taste Junction she has a new contest which required entries for different salads.

Honestly, I can’t wait for her to make the round-up already, because it would mean fantastic salad recipes all in one place!! You have to go to her blog and find out how fantastically talented Anamika is with her cooking and photography. So my second attempt at Tabbouleh which was fairly successful one, I have decided to put forth it as an entry for the Salad Spread contest.

In my opinion, it’s the dressing of this humble salad that is the star of the fare. It is a refreshing blend of balsamic vinaigrette and grenadine syrup reduction. It is supremely important to use the freshest of ingredients since that would make the salad look and feel fabulous. As an avid salad consumer, I  have realized that size of the chop makes the salad taste very different. Seasoning and dressing is what gives the salad its character. With these pointers in mind, I got down to making Tabbouleh early evening, yesterday.

Recipe for Tabbouleh

Ingredients

3 fresh/firm large tomatoes

3-4 stalks of spring onion

A bunch of parsley which when chopped fine should come to atleast one and a half cups

Fresh mint- that when chopped should come to one cup

3-4 tbsp of burghul

one cup of pomegrante

some salt -pepper to season

2 tbsp of olive oil

1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

2-3 tbsp of grenadine syrup

water as required

1 tsp of sugar if required

Preparation

1. The first step would be to remove the parsley from its stalks and give them a good wash. Then it needs to be dried thoroughly before chopping because once chopped it releases a lot of juice.  Do similarly to mint leaves as well.

2. Soak the burghul in cold water and let it stay for 30-45 mins. After this time, the burghul is puffy and needs to be drained well.

3.  Chop the tomatoes next by deseeding them first. The aim is to keep the salad as dry as possible. Let the finely chopped tomatoes stay for a while to ooze out as much juice as possible.

4. Chop spring onions finely and keep them aside.

5. While all the ingredients rest, made the balsamic -grenadine reduction by adding all the mentioned quantities in a pan with some water ( 1 -2 tsps to start with) and let it all reduce. Add a tsp or two of sugar if you feel the concoction is too tart. Keep adding water in teaspoons to make sure you get the correction consistency-not too thick or too watery. Taste and check whether it suits you. When you feel it does, take it off the flame and let it cool. I like mine tangy and sweet.

6. Mix all the chopped vegetables ( drain the tomatoes well) and burghul(after draining it very well). Season it lightly with salt and pepper( I skipped pepper). Add pomegrante and toss the salad well. Pour the reduction on the salad and serve immediately with Pita (bread) and hummous (chickpeas dip). It works well all by itself too.

Notes- You can also try other seasonings such as ground cinnamon and/or all spice too.

If you want to keep it simple then a simple dressing of olive oil, salt and lemon works wonders.

It is absolutely important to use fresh ingredients for the true flavours to emerge

I made the balasmic vinaigrette by blending- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp of olive oil. With the aid of a whisk I made it succumb into a creamy sauce. You can add salt and pepper at this stage to the vinaigrette and skip adding it separately to the salad.

Finer the chop, better the flavour.

The pink of the pomegranate against the green of the herbs has the most soothing affect on my eyes. Infusion of the reduction takes it to a whole new level with a tartness from the balsamic and the sweetness from the grenadine syrup. Perfect!

Do try it and see how beautifully the flavours work with each other.

9 Responses to “Summer Salad Special – Tabbouleh”

  1. yummychunklet July 14, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Your tabbouleh looks so tasty and refreshing!

  2. Anamika July 14, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    It indeed looks very refreshing & I got to try this version, so do keep it for me! And loved the little nitty gritty of salad tips you have shared. Thanks for the entry!! Time to get cracking on another one 🙂

  3. Bikram July 14, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    oooh I want to eat that right now .. dont have the patience to make one 🙂

    weekend is coming lets see …
    looks delicious

  4. jay July 14, 2011 at 1:52 pm #

    looks so gooooood…inviting cliks..
    Tasty Appetite

  5. Rosa July 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    That is a dish I really love! perfect when it’s hot outside. Your tabbouleh looks lovely.

    I’d love to send you are card someday when my budget permits me to do so. ;-P

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  6. Plateful July 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    I love tabbouleh and in fact, I have a recipe in my draft to be published soon 🙂 I fell in love with this salad when I was working at QP. My Qatari colleagues used to order it often as a mid-morning snack with khubbus. The first time I tasted I was like, this is camel food..! lol. That’s when my colleagues told me how to enjoy it — drench it in extra olive oil and add drizzles of lemon to spike the flavors. Even since I’ve never looked down on tabbouleh or ever said no to it 🙂

  7. kankana July 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    I never had tabbouleh .. but the recipe sounds amazing to me. I am onto fruits and salads only and this is something i need to try next 🙂 Thanks for sharing dear!

  8. Jim July 16, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks for the recipe… I love me some tabbouleh… perfect for the summer!

  9. Christina July 18, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    This sounds great! It is so hot here today it would be perfect!

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