Sweet tabbouleh

April 12, 2011  •  Category:


As Lebanese, we have embraced challenges, crossed oceans, climbed mountain peaks around the globe, learned foreign languages, assimilated and adjusted to strange environments and societies; however, there is one area in which veering from tradition is never done, food.

Every Lebanese restaurant across the world will present a similar menu, with the tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghannouj trio; as a Lebanese, I am expected to cook traditional dishes according to tradition or how everyone’s grandmother or mother made it for generations.

One explanation: Food is our identity and the only tradition that we can still hang on to, despite the geographical distance.

However,  a handful of Lebanese chefs  have dared use our Lebanese culinary heritage creatively with dishes never attempted before; two names come to mind, Karim Haidar in Paris and London and Maroun Chédid in Beirut.

I respect and revere  Lebanese culinary traditions but I don’t see why I am expected to enslave myself to them. We can cook traditional dishes faithfully, but we can also play around with ingredients and techniques; that is what makes cooking fun.

Share your thoughts if you care to!

Here is a sweet tabbouleh, a light, fruity, yet rustic concoction that could be enjoyed for breakfast or a light meal or a snack.


  • 1 cup of orange juice, freshly squeezed (2 oranges)
  • 1 cup of fine bulgur
  • 2 Teaspoons of orange rind
  • 1/3 cup of grated coconut
  • 7 to 10 mejdool dates
  • 1 Teaspoon of orange blossom water
  • 1/4 cup of pecans
  • 1/4 cup of fresh almonds (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup)
  • 1 Large orange
  • 3 Tablespoons of olive oil


  1. Squeeze the oranges and collect the juice in a bowl; rinse the bulgur under running tap water, squeeze it dry and place it in the bowl with the orange juice; let it absorb the juice completely. Roast the pecans in a 325F oven for 10 minutes. Cool and chop coarsely.
  2. If using fresh almonds, add them now to the bulgur; cut the dates in half, remove the pit and cut the halves in small chunks. Add to the bowl; add the orange rind, brown sugar (or honey or maple syrup), orange blossom water, olive oil, coconut, chopped pecans into the bowl and combine gently. Peel the orange and cut into segments; add the segments to the salad and any residual juice.

NOTE: This salad will get better if you let the flavors combine for one hour or longer.


38 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Mimi says:

    What a fabulous twist on a traditional dish.

  2. jantonio says:

    Me parece un plato divertido, bonito y fantástico.
    Gracias por compartirlo.

  3. Steve @ HPD says:

    Very cool. Nice twist. Great side to bring to a spring or summer party. Can’t wait to try it.

  4. Peter says:

    I like chefs who shake up and offer twists on classics or play around with traditional ingredients. I draw the line at foam and when the food doesn’t look like food anymore. I all for it and your sweet tabbouleh.

  5. Devaki says:

    Dear Joumana – Food does break so many barriers and unites us as a race, non? Your version right here reminds me of Indian halwa made with flour, semolina or vermicelli. Using bulghar wheat is so wonderful and what a healthful way to enjoy dessert.

    Your creativity knows no bounds my friend! And by all means when you are a Master at what you do, like you, you juggle traditions, bend them & break them all with success! 🙂

    chow! Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  6. Ivy says:

    Joumana, this is very creative and if you like you can link it to my event Creative Concoctions. It is good to know our traditional recipes but cooking is an art which evolves like many other things and while many traditional foods were created or made for purpose of necessity of their time, they are an excellent base to start again and infuse with new flavours.

  7. stacey snacks says:

    This looks so delicious…..I love all the components and was going to try a sweet couscous recipe like this, but will do the bulgur instead!

  8. Joan Nova says:

    Love the sweet tabbouleh. Great as a side dish with some grilled meat or for breakfast as you said.

  9. Priya says:

    Thats an interesting and very inviting tabbouleh,never had sweet version..

  10. Grapefruit says:

    I have never heard of this! What a wonderful sounding twist on the original. You’re such an inspiration!

  11. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    Eventually most cultures do adapt their recipes along with keeping the traditional. Good for you for embracing this.

  12. Astra Libris says:

    Ooooooh!! SO creative, refreshing, and FUN!! I just posted about how I have an enormous quantity of bulgar in my pantry, which means I can fix this gorgeous dish right away! Hooray! 🙂

  13. Eve@CheapEthnicEatz says:

    In a much less serious tone I myself posted a blog yesterday saying how cooking has to be fun and one should not take themselves to seriously in the kitchen. Traditions are important but adaptation is key to survival so to keep the old fresh you have to add modern twists, like your delightful sweet tabbouleh.

  14. T.W Barritt says:

    I agree – the beauty of food is that we can play with traditions and create something entirely new. I think new creations honor the old traditions. I love the idea of a sweet tabbouleh.

  15. tigerfish says:

    I have not tried tabbouleh before but it sure makes a good breakfast! If only my breakfast is as sumptuous as this …..:)

  16. Barbara says:

    This dish has everything. The crunch of nuts, lovely citrus and sweet and chewy dates! Sounds wonderful, Joumana! We would be boring people if we didn’t try things that were off the beaten path. Your tabbouleh is perfect.

  17. Magic of Spice says:

    I think it is important to experiment with dishes, although I understand traditions, this is how new traditions begin as well. This looks like the perfect breakfast and I have all of the ingredients except the almonds. I will get up a bit early and try this for breakfast 🙂

  18. Min {Honest Vanilla} says:

    I had a wonderful tabbouleh at a Lebanese restaurant recently and love to see your version here! 🙂

  19. Theresa says:

    What I’ve always loved about Lebanese cooking is it’s adapatability: there are meat and vegetarian versions of similar dishes. My mother cooks her food in a certain way, yet my aunts and cousins have different versions of the same dish. And I know a lot of recipes are changed to suit the tastes of the family. It’s all good!

  20. Juanita says:

    I wholeheartedly agree about taking traditions and moulding them to make them our own in a way that’s unique and works for us.
    I love your sweet take on tabbouleh – it looks delicious!

  21. Cristina says:

    mmm this sounds delicious! I like experimenting, so I totally get you 🙂

  22. Louise says:

    IMHO, Pride in one’s culinary heritage is just as valuable as having a sense of culinary adventure.

    Tabbouleh for breakfast, that’s what I’m talking about! Love it!!!

    Thanks for sharing, Joumana…

  23. Banana Wonder says:

    I love the sweet grains…who needs oatmeal!

  24. Nuts about food says:

    I totally agree with you on this. I recently wrote a post about this too, because living in a country like Italy, where culinary tradition is extremely strong, this topic of discussion often arises. Tradition and heritage are important, so is identity, but using experience and tradition to obtain an even better result cannot be wrong!

  25. TheKitchenWitch says:

    This sounds so intriguing! I’d never thought to sweeten things up that way!

  26. Cherine says:

    That’s one original tasty tabbouleh!

  27. Katerina says:

    Tradition is one totally respectable aspect of food but eating involves all senses and in this manner I think that intriguing your senses and trying new flavors helps you expand your horizons in other aspects of life as well. This sweet tabbouleh does exactly that!

  28. deana says:

    This would be amazing for breakfast, I love bulgar and its nuttiness… lovely idea, Joumana

  29. Claudia says:

    This will be a delightful weekend breakfast for the family. Such a change from my egg white omelettes or oatmeal! I think you do both – cook traditionally to hand down the stories and lore of food and play with recipes – to enhance creativity within your cuisine.

  30. Tammy says:

    I have to agree with some of the other ommenters: tradition is vital, yes, but so is innovation–without it no new classics. And this one looks to be just the ticket. Chapeau!

  31. Biksuit says:

    Une association de parfums très réussie.

  32. Oui, Chef says:

    What a brilliant twist on tradition – I can totally see eating a dish like this for breakfast…healthy, sweet and quick. – S

  33. sheila @ Elements says:

    I’ve never had a sweet tabbouleh before, but I can’t wait to try it! I can’t believe I don’t have any oranges in the fridge and am disappointed I can’t make it for breakfast tomorrow. But I’ll get some at the store next week and have it for breakfast one morning! I can’t wait! 🙂

  34. gourmandelise says:

    Je réalise une recette similaire, sauf qu’à la place du boulgour je met de la semoule à couscous. C’est également délicieux!

  35. Jumanah (Healthy Liv says:

    Hi! I found your blog through Bikini Birthday’s blog and LOVE it! I am Palestinian and love your twists on the classic foods! Look forward to reading more!

  36. domi says:

    Une délicieuse recette en salée sucrée pour cette salade qui pourrait être facilement passer pour un dessert….

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