A fellow taxi driver in Beirut was describing the kammooneh (from kammoon, cumin) and talking about his village in the south, near the border with Israel. He was mentioning the delicious cumin spice that goes in that dish. My curiosity was piqued and I was planning to try it. Luck would have it that Dana, from Plano, Texas, who was reading this blog, told me that she too is originally from the south and she shared her family’s recipe with me. Thanks so much Dana and I hope you approve of my version! I tried to stay close to yours but could not resist adding some red pepper to it, as was indicated in Marlene Mattar’s book, as well as some fresh basil.
This salad is delicious: it is light, moist, fragrant with herbs and the taste of tomatoes and onion, with a nice zing from the hot pepper and cumin. A perfect appetizer for a summer evening. I followed Dana’s suggestion and served it with a dish of labneh, pita bread and olives. My son, who is vegan, loved it and I was happy.
INGREDIENTS: This quantity will yield up to 8 servings
- 2 pounds (1 kilo) of heirloom or vine tomatoes
- 1 cup of fine bulgur or burghul#1
- 1 bunch of green onions or 1 medium white onion
- 1 cup of fresh basil (about 2 ounces), a handful of fresh mint, about 4 tablespoons of fresh marjoram,
- 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red pepper
- 1 red chili pepper or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Spices: white pepper, cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon each. 1 teaspoon paprika. 2 tablespoons ground cumin. Salt, to taste.
- Cabbage or lettuce or grape leaves to serve the kammoone (optional)
- Peel and chop and seed the tomatoes and set aside in a bowl.
- Chop the red pepper and chili pepper and set aside.
- Cover the bulgur in water briefly and drain, pressing with a spatula to remove the excess moisture.
- Chop the green onions and set aside.
- In a food processor, place the fresh herbs, onion, bulgur and spices. Process for a few seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, red pepper and chili pepper. Process a few seconds more.
- Through the feed tube, add the olive oil.
- Taste for seasoning. Set the mixture aside for a couple hours, so that the bulgur has a chance to absorb all the spices. Refrigerate if not serving right away.
- When ready to serve, blanch a cabbage in boiling water for a few minutes. Cool and cut in half. Take one leaf and set a few tablespoons of kammoone on each leaf. Serve as an appetizer or in a bowl with some olives, pita bread and labneh or cheese. Sahteyn!