National Tabouleh Day

July 3, 2010  •  Category: ,


Today was National Tabouleh Day, an event organized by Souk el Tayeb, Lebanon’s first organic farmers market in Beirut and Ricardo Mbarkho.

While the tabouleh is Lebanon’s most famous salad, it has unfortunately been  bastardized elsewhere in the world; it is a rare occurrence to find an authentic tabouleh salad outside of Lebanon!  The event today  was open to anyone  and plates of  tabbouleh samples  distributed graciously; a competition was organized in three categories, traditional tabouleh, winter tabouleh and creative tabouleh.

I was intrigued by a tabouleh that contained geranium petals and was dressed with sumac in addition to the traditional fresh lemon juice and olive oil; winter tabouleh was offered by one contestant with lentils and parsley; an Armenian tabouleh was on display with bulgur and tomatoes and peppers.

NOTE: The traditional way of eating tabouleh is cupped in a cabbage or lettuce leaf; for the traditional recipe, click here.

Recipe for the creative tabouleh presented today (reconstituted):


  • 1 tablespoon of sumac
  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, a dash of allspice


  1. 2 bunches of flat-leafed parsley, stems discarded or used elsewhere, leaves chopped very fine
  2. 1 large white onion, chopped very fine
  3. 1 handful of fresh basil, shredded
  4. 1 handful of pink geranium leaves, unsprayed, please!
  5. 1/4 cup of small bulgur, soaked in lemon juice or tomato juice or water for a few minutes till softened
  6. 4 large tomatoes, diced small
  7. 2 small green peppers, diced small


  1. Drain the bulgur and keep the juice (if lemon or tomato) for the dressing
  2. Mix all the chopped and diced vegetables together; add the geranium flowers at the last minute, after tossing with the dressing, so that the flowers do not wilt.
  3. Serve in cabbage leaves or romaine lettuce leaves.


According to the Academy of Gastronomy in Lebanon there are several components that make up an authentic tabouleh:

  • use of flat-leaved parsley
  • use of bulgur
  • use of tomatoes, onion, olive oil and lemon juice


62 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. peter says:

    Joumana, I used to not like parsley but that’s all changed as an adult…so I adore Tabbouleh.

    Question, when does a creative Tabbouleh become a bastardized Tabbouleh? Fine line?

    • Joumana says:

      @Peter: you are asking me “une colle” (a question I can’t answer!): Open question to all Lebanese out there!

      @GRapefruit: the geranium added a lot of visual appeal; the sumac some intense lemony flavor.

  2. Anita says:

    Yay, Tabouli Day!! Just had it last night with dinner, I love it! Never seen one with geranium blossoms, very festive and so beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jen_from_NJ says:

    I love tabouleh – thank you for the traditional recipe! I’m not sure where to find edible geranium leaves – I’ll have to search those out.

  4. Rosa says:

    Something so fresh and delicious!



  5. Faith says:

    I love the variety of tabouleh here! The one with the geranium flowers is interesting to me too. Happy National Tabouleh Day! 🙂

  6. elra says:

    I am making this for the 4th of July get together with whole bunch of my family. Thanks for the recipe Joumana :))

  7. Lori Lynn says:

    I must try that dressing!

  8. Sue says:

    Looks delicious! I can’t stand it when it’s made with more bulgar than parsley. Your pink geranium leaves are darling. Wish I could scoop it up with a big leaf of romaine. Yum!

  9. Lyndsey says:

    How fun! It looks so good. Thanks for the recipe! I have some bulgur that I’ve been wanting a good recipe to use it in. Trying more and more grains and with recipes like this it shouldn’t be too hard! Thanks!

  10. SYLVIA says:

    Tabouleh is Lebanese pride and joy, the salad we all fell in love with growing up, this is a new spin by breaking the rules and adding edible flowers and other ingredients. Using flowers in food is back in vogue once again, it gives food a touch of elegance, the dressing really highlights all the wonderful flavors in the salad, and everything looks super clean in the white plate. We eat our Ich with young tender grape leaves, and steamed cabbage, nice job Joumana.

  11. Grapefruit says:

    Wow – national tabouleh day! This is my *most* favorite lebanese salad. And I love the fact that your recipe contains very little bulgar. I like mine with more parsley.
    I have to ask – what kind of flavor do the geraniums lend to the salad? Or does their flavor get masked by the flavors from the lemon and parsley? They sure make the tabouleh look pretty, though.

  12. OysterCulture says:

    How did I miss out on not knowing about National Tabouleh Day? This salad is the result of inspiration and higher intelligence than I can ever inspire too. What a perfect dish to make for this long weekend in the US, a perfect food for the hot weather, I have to say even in San Francisco.

  13. sweetlife says:

    national tabouleh day, how wonderful..great salad great flavors how fresh tasting, perfect for summer parties…


  14. kim says:

    I love it with my hummus sandwich! YUM!

  15. joudie's mood food says:

    Ooooh this sounds like my kind of day. Im afraid that maybe my mum has changed hers a little due to a request from all of her daughters…. We have removed the wheat from it as it bloats a lot. But pretty much its all the same. We cup it in lettuce, and eat it with freshly chopped green chillies. Yumm Cant wait to have this soon. Looks like you are enjoying Beirut. Greece is amazing!

  16. deana says:

    I do love tabouleh in the the summer.. geranium flowers/leaves would be lovely… how do they taste? I think I will try the sumac definitely to add another tone to my salad and the cabbage leaf plate is a keeper!

  17. Katerina says:

    I love tabouleh. Many restaurants in Greece have included this salad in their menus

  18. fimère says:

    un taboulé pareil ne se refuse pas!!
    personnellement j’adore
    bonne soirée

  19. Louise says:

    Happy National Tabouleh Day Joumana! I may have missed it this year but I can guarantee it won’t be missed next year. I absolutely adore Tabouleh. I had no idea there were so many variations.

    it just so happens that I have scented geraniums growing in my garden this year. I think I’ll try this recipe with the Strawberry Geraniums, oh no perhaps the lemon. Decisions, decisions. All I can say for sure is…bookmarked!!!

  20. Amy @ cookbookmaniac says:

    I cannot be trusted with a bowl of tabbouleh at a party. I can guarantee that if it is anywhere within my eyesight it will disappear into my belly without mercy!

  21. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    Wow, those all look great! Interesting how much parsley, and how little bulgur, they use.

    By the way, I’ve officially moved my blog, so please update your bookmark, blogroll, reader feed, etc! :]

  22. john@heneedsfood says:

    As much as I love this salad I’ve never attempted it. I’m amazed that a salad can have its own national day, love it!

  23. Hélène (Cannes) says:

    Le vrai tabouleh, c’est quand même autre chose que la salade de couscous que l’on voudrait faire passer pour lui ici ! ;o) J’aime bien l’idée du sumac … J’en mettrai la prochaine fois !

  24. Cherine says:

    National Tabouleh day, this is interesting!!
    Taboule is the best salad ever!!

  25. brian_in_gib says:

    OK, I love tabouleh and this variation (creative or bastardised, it’s the same to me) sounds great. But what is sumac? I haven’t a clue.
    Greetings from Gib,

    • Joumana says:

      @Brian: sumac is a bush with reddish berries; the berries are ground into a powder and used A LOT in Lebanese cuisine: in kibbeh, salads like fattoush, etc; other middle-eastern cuisines use it, the Persian sprinkle it on their rice, the Syrians use it a lot also. It grows all over the world and chances are you have it growig wild in your neck of the woods! Oh, and it tastes lemony and a bit sour; sumac is sometimes colored artificially so it is best to buy it at organic markets where it’s brownish-reddish color is natural.

  26. grace says:

    well, if any foodstuff deserves a day in its honor, it’s tabouleh–i love that refreshing, oh-so-nutritious side dish!

  27. Velva says:

    I am always learning something new when I visit your blog. I love tabouleh and enjoyed it often. I have no doubt that I probably too, ‘bastardized’ this beautiful fresh salad.

    As always, great post.

  28. deeba says:

    Happy Tabouleh Day Joumana … sounds like delicious fun! LOL on Petah’s question; a fine line indeed! I like the use of sumac in the dressing. I have a bagful and know not what to do with it. This is a great idea!

  29. Koek! says:

    I have a favourite Lebanese restaurant where they serve tabouleh in lettuce leaves. Thanks for this gorgeous recipe – I am most grateful to get one straight from someone who knows what she’s talking about! But I have a question – is this an authentic/traditional tabouleh recipe? I only ask because I noticed you used the word ‘creative’…

  30. Koek! says:

    Oh – after reading your post again I see that this is a creative version… Never mind my question!

  31. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    Like Peter, I also grew to like parsley later in life and can now very happily appreciate a good serve of tabouleh! The parsley in my garden is growing like mad and needs to be put to good use so I think a tabouleh eating session is in order to celebrate this day 🙂

  32. Priya says:

    Love tabouleh anytime…looks delicious..

  33. fimère says:

    J’en aurai goûté avec plaisir.
    A bientôt.

  34. Nadji says:

    Je ne fais jamais de taboulé. Il va falloir y remédier rapidement.
    A bientôt.

  35. FOODESSA says:

    Whenever I have a chance to go to a Lebanese restaurant…I always make sure this dish is on our table.
    Very refreshing and great colorful goodness ;o)

    Flavourful wishes, Claudia

  36. Magdalena says:

    Hello! Thank you so much for sharing this Tabouleh Day…: and ideas for authentic Tabouleh.. – geranium is so popular in Poland (my mom has tons of them at her balcony) …the only problem is that probably all of them are sprayed. Anyway, I will keep in my mind this idea :)….

  37. noobcook says:

    what a pretty and yummy looking salad with the little flowers!

  38. Linds says:

    Thanks to some research done on your blog about 4 months ago, my wife and I were at souk el tayeb on Saturday! We managed to miss the crowning of the Tabouleh Champion – ironically enough because we were around the corner, sitting under a nice shady tree stuffing ourselves with her delicious chickpeas and rice! After that we headed back for a go at the tabouleh itself, the first I had ever tried. I think a good place to start!

  39. Choosy Beggar Tina says:

    I adore traditional tabouli, but that creative version looks mouthwatering! My father, a harsh tabouli critic (“too much bulghar! Are lemons extinct?!”) also experiments once in a while, and we’ve found that tabouli salad with some chopped up avocado and green apple is absolutely deeelightful!

    If I can respond to Peter — a creative tabouli becomes a bastardized tabouli when it markets itself as “traditional”. So, for example, the tabouli salad that you can buy at a deli counter made with mostly couscous and a wee bit of parsley? Bastardization. The “Fusion Tabouli Salad” you buy at a restaurant with raw beets and a hint of cilantro? Creative, because it doesn’t sell itself as something that it’s not. Imagine someone serving you “Traditional Greek pork souvlaki”, and what you get is pork on a skewer which was marinated in basil and lime juice, and then you’ll see what I mean!

  40. T.W. Barritt says:

    Everything you’ve shared here about tabouleh is new to me. Clearly I’ve seen the “other” versions in the past. The add of geranium flowers is fascinating.

  41. MaryMoh says:

    Mmm…this looks very healthy. Must be very delicious. New to me. Hope to try one day.

  42. marla says:

    It is so interesting how a true Tabouleh is mostly green from the parsley rather than mostly couscous. I prefer the traditional version over the modernized. The geranium flowers are a very interesting ingredient. xo

  43. tobias cooks! says:

    one can eat geranium leaves? I did not know that!

  44. Barbara says:

    I checked out the traditional tabouli recipe and it’s one I am familiar with, Joumana. Luckily, every time I’ve had it, it has had the basic ingredients you listed.
    But I do love your adaptation with geranium petals and sumac. Very intriguing!

  45. Nadia says:

    Love both versions of the tabouleh. I was busy with my sister so have not been checking my favorite blogs as frequently as I would like to. I looked at your previous posts on your trip–amazing! I enjoyed them all.

  46. Pj says:

    national tabouleh day sounds fantastic! i like the addition of sumac to the regular tabouleh, i must try it soon.

  47. citronetvanille says:

    AH je suis d’accord on appelle tabbouleh tout et n’importe quoi ici…merci pour la recette originale et la version avec les pétales de geranium m’intrigue beaucoup, les pétales ont quel goût exactement?

  48. Cara says:

    A whole day dedicated to this fresh and gorgeous salad? Love it!

  49. El Oso con Botas says:

    i love this lebanese salad. I had the chance to learn to prepare a real tabbouleh with Anissa Helou. It really drives me mad when someone says or shows a “tabbouleh” done with tons of couscous and few leaves of parsley, mint and some chopped tomatoes. Next time I will try to soak burghul in lemon juice. ¿Was the addition of geranium leaves fine? I have just tried geranium tea in Thailand but I’ve never eaten the leaves.

    • Joumana says:

      @El Oso con Botas: Adding geranium petals made the salad so pretty but I can’t honestly say that it add a new taste dimension. I agree with you I feel the same regarding tabbouleh with couscous and little parsley.

  50. Caitlyn says:

    Good post. I certainly love this website.
    Continue the good work!

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