“'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.
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.
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