Tabbouleh with Baharat

What You'll Need

  • spice grinder or mortar and pestle
  • fine strainer
  • good kitchen knife and clean cutting surface
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • bowl for mixing
  • serving dish
Ingredients for Baharat
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 small cinnamon stick, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp whole cloves
    1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1/2 whole nutmeg, grated
Ingredients for Tabbouleh
  • 1/3 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • 2 pounds ripe, firm tomatoes
  • 1 shallot (about 3 Tbs, finely chopped)
  • 3 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to finish
  • 4 bunches flat-leaf parsley (5 1/2 oz)
  • 2 bunches mint (1 oz)
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1-2 tsp baharat spice mix
  • 1/3 cup quality olive oil
  • seeds of 1/2 large pomegranate (optional)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

“'If you want to find a good husband, you’d better learn how to chop your parsley properly.’” This is the stern caution issued by Sami Tamimi’s Palestinian mother to her daughter, quoted at the start of the recipe for tabbouleh in Jerusalem: A Cookbook. “Indeed tabbouleh, as is not always understood in the West, is all about parsley. It is a key ingredient—both in this salad, and in Palestinian cuisine in general—and it must be treated with respect and great deftness, as implied by Sami’s mum.”

No doubt, there are others who can treat this ubiquitous herb with far more deftness than I have shown here, but I was inspired to do my respectful best by the fragrant, green smell of the fresh herbs and the intoxicating blend of spices in the baharat. Parsley is underutilized in American cuisine, appearing often as small green flecks that never get a chance to really shine. This recipe puts parsley in the center stage, full of flavor and texture, light and fresh and satisfying and rich, all at once.

The baharat is a spice blend that, literally translated from the arabic, means simply “spices.” It’s used for flavoring everything from stews to vegetables, fish, and grain dishes. Heck, I sprinkled some on grilled nectarines, and swooned. This recipe makes a bit more than you need for a single dish of tabbouleh, but not so much that it will lose the amazing, fresh-ground flavors. You may find yourself tempted to substitute ground spices for whole ones, but know that the whole spices really make an incredible difference here. The cinnamon, in particular, was a revelation.
ingredients for tabbouleh


Place the spices in a spice grinder or mortar and grind until a fine powder is formed. Store in an airtight container, where it will keep for 6 weeks.
grind bahrat spices

Place the bulgar in a fine sieve and run under cold water until the water coming through looms clear, rather than cloudy with starch. If you can’t get fine bulgar wheat, or if the label does not mention the grade, soak the wheat in boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain it and leave it to dry in a fine sieve. Drain well.
rinse bulgur
Dice the tomatoes into small, 1/4” cubes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to a large bowl, and toss with the bulgur, shallots, and lemon juice. This blend will begin to flavor and soften the bulgur as you prepare the other ingredients.
mix veggies
Trim off the bulk of the bare parsley stems, leaving mostly leaf. Pack a few sprigs together tightly, and, using a very sharp knife, chop the parsley as finely as you possibly can. (The original recipe calls for pieces no larger than 1/32 of an inch thick. I am quite sure I fell short of that in this attempt, but the idea is to chop as finely as possible.) Add the parsley to the bowl.
finely chop parsley
Pick the mint leaves off of the stems, and shred them finely as you did the parsley. Try to avoid crushing the leaves too tightly together; they discolor under pressure. Add the mint to the bowl.
add spices
Finally, add the allspice, a teaspoon of baharat, olive oil, pomegranate if using, and some salt and pepper. Toss well and let sit briefly before tasting. Adjust the flavor by adding more salt, pepper, baharat, or lemon juice.
toss to combine


Over to You

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