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Mtashtash – Tabbouleh Kezzebeh

Mtashtash (متشتش) is a satiating salad with an abundance of bulgur, commonly prepared in the Akkar region of Northern Lebanon. It is also known as blileh or even “fake tabbouleh” (tabbouleh kezzebeh – تبولة كذّابة). The word mtashtash means soaked and refers to the bulgur that is mixed with the other ingredients. This traditional recipe is typically prepared during Lent and is served with cooked or fresh cabbage leaves, or it can be scooped with fresh lettuce leaves.

Mtashtash Recipe:
(Recipe courtesy of Rose Bitar from Fneidik, Akkar)

Serves: 5 people
Calories: 650 calories per serving
Preparation Time: 30 mins


2 cups of coarse bulgur
5 tbsp. of chickpeas (cooked)
1 tbsp. of tomato paste
1 tsp. of chili paste
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1 cup of olive oil
2 medium sized tomatoes
2 bunches of parsley
1 bunch of mint
4 green onions
Juice of 1 squeezed lemon
Salt to taste

Preparation Steps:

  1. Wash the bulgur thoroughly.
  2. In a bowl, rub the bulgur with the garlic, olive oil, tomato paste and chili paste; mix the ingredients well and leave them aside.
  3. Finely chop the parsley, mint and green onions and add them to the bulgur mix.
  4. Dice the tomatoes and add them to the bulgur mix.
  5. Finally, add the chickpeas, lemon juice and salt and mix well.
  6. Serve cold with boiled or fresh cabbages or with fresh lettuce leaves.
Eat Local

National Tabbouleh Day

Contributing writer: Camille CESBRON, Food Anthropologist

On Saturday July the 4th, Lebanese all over the world will celebrate Lebanese National Tabbouleh Day. People gather to celebrate by eating the national dish, in the thee colors of the Lebanese flag. This celebration based around the idea of commensality – eating together – and reinforced by the idea of preserving their culinary identity, shows the Lebanese attachment to their culture through the consumption of the same dish. Tabbouleh is important to us because it is so embodied in your life and social gatherings.

This celebration which was launched in 2001 by Ricardo Mbarkho, Lebanese artist living in Paris, has rapidly spread around the world.

From the Arabic word tabbala (تبّل) « to season », tabbouleh is most commonly made with parsley, tomatoes, burghul, spring onion (in spring and summer) or brown onion, olive oil, lemon juice, and sometimes mint. There are few ways to eat tabbouleh : with lettuce or cabbage leaves, wine leaves during spring and summer and some people even enjoy it with bread.

Fresh saff tabbouleh from Rashaya ready to be served

Tabbouleh holds an essential place in the Lebanese mezze: people would have most often tabbouleh or fattouche on the table, to the point where it’s almost mandatory in Lebanon to have at least one salad on the table. Tabbouleh has several « declensions » in Lebanon, lentils replace the burghul in the Chouf, and fennel replace parsley in some villages. The word tabbouleh itself has been used to refer to different salads and dishes containing burghul and mixed fresh vegetables ; one of the most interesting dishes is called Tabbouleh bi Qawarma and usually replace the traditional ingredients in winter when herbs are not in season.

Qawarma tabbouleh served with boiled cabbage leaves

Preparing tabbouleh is a social activity because it takes time to prepare the parsley. Women gather to form little bunches of even-size parsley then chop it with a very sharp knife to give it a clean cut in order to not bruise the herb.

Lentil tabbouleh from the Chouf

Lebanon and Syria share the origins of tabbouleh. There, in the cities the tabbouleh is the classic version but in the countryside, lentil and cucumber are sometimes added, and instead of onion, garlic is sometimes used. It’s said that women invite each other to prepare and eat tabbouleh. It can be an early lunch, or at night for dinner. Usually they serve it with jam and add roasted peanuts on top. In Syria, it said that men usually prefer fattouche, as tabbouleh is more linked to women.


Saff (Tabbouleh Saff)

Saff is a traditional Lebanese salad similar to the Tabbouleh we all know but with more sources of proteins and fibers. Saff is renown in Rashaya region and is prepared during summer and fall when all ingredients are available.

Fresh Saff ready to be served

Total Servings: 8

Preparation time: 30 mns


1 ½ cups of chick-peas soaked in water overnight

1/3 cup of fine Burgol

3 bunches of Parsley

Half bunch of Mint

5 Green onions

3 Tomatoes, medium size

5 Cucumbers, medium size

Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest, Salt, Black Pepper according to taste

A pinch of Sumac

Carrot, Radish, Cabbage and Garlic are optional ingredients added according to taste

Preparation steps

  1. Finely chop all vegetables
  2. Grind the chickpeas
  3. Add chickpeas and burgul to the chopped vegetables
  4. Mix with all the seasoning ingredients (sumac, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper)
  5. Serve cold as a side salad

Beetroot Tabbouleh

Beetroot Tabbouleh (Tabboulit shmandar) is more of a winter salad when beetroot are abundant. This specific recipe is a highlight of Khairat Bekaina community kitchen in Khiara, West Bekaa.

Total Servings: 4


1 kg of beetroot

250 g of fine white burgol

1 ½ bunches of parsley

½ bunch of mint

1 small onion

½   of one sour pomegranate

2 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses

Olive Oil, Lemon juice, salt to taste

Preparation steps

  1. Boil, peel and finely chop the beetroots. Save the cooking water
  2. Soak the burgol in enough cooking water until all water is absorbed by the burgol
  3. Finely chop parsley, mint and onion
  4. Mix all aforementioned ingredients with the pomegranate seeds and seasoning (olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and salt)
  5. Serve chilled

Eryngo “Kors Anneh” salad

Dardar on the left and Qors Aanneh on the right

Eryngium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apiaceae containing about 250 species and with a worldwide distribution. While some species are grown as ornamental plants in gardens, others like Eryngium creticum or eryngo in English, panicaut de crete in French and “Kors Anneh” in Arabic are collected in the wild and used for their medicinal and culinary benefits.

Kors Anneh” grows around the Mediterranean region including Lebanon, Syria and Palestine where is it knows as the “thorn of Abraham”. This thorny plant grows on different altitudes in dry soils. During spring, the new soft leaves are prepared in salads. “Kors Anneh” leaves are rich in antioxidants and have been used to treat a number of diseases.


Kors Anneh” leaves

1 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, mashed

Olive oil

Lemon juice


Vinegar (optional)

Preparation steps:

  1. Wash the “Kors Anneh” leaves thoroughly to clean them and remove plant debris that might be stuck between them
  2. Finely chop the leaves and put them in a salad bowl
  3. Add the other ingredients and mix well
  4. Enjoy with moujaddara on the side

Seasoned “Dardar”

Seasoned dardar

Dardar in Arabic and Eastern star thistle in English (Centaurea hyalolepis) is a wild edible plant commonly collected and cooked in rural Lebanon and Syria. The leaves which look like chicory leaves, are never eaten fresh but always cooked. They are rich in vitamins, iron and magnesium. In Syria, “marshousha” is a traditional dish composed of the plant’s leaves cooked with bulgur, onions, olive oil and paprika. The seasoned dardar leaves are called “assoura“; they are usually prepared with lots of garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.


Dardar” leaves, washed and cleaned

2 garlic cloves, mashed

Olive oil

Lemon juice


Preparation steps:

  1. Cook the dardar  leaves in hot water until soft
  2. Strain then squeeze out the remaining water with your hands
  3. Finely chop the leaves and put them in a salad bowl
  4. Add the other ingredients and mix well
  5. Enjoy with a loaf of Lebanese bread

Centaurea hyalolepis in the West Bekaa


Jabaliyeh Tomato seasoned with garlic & sumac

Green and red “banadoura jabaliyeh”

In Lebanon, Jabaliyeh Tomatoes, or Heirloom tomatoes, are commonly served in local restaurants as mezze. However, they can also be served as a salad or decorate any other salad with the seasoned tomato slices.

Caloric content: 190 calories / seasoned tomato


1 Jabaliyeh Tomato (200 g)

4 garlic cloves

1 Tbsp of olive oil

½ tsp of salt

1 pinch of sumac

Preparation steps:

  1. Wash the tomato and cut into slices (~ thickness of 1 cm approx.)
  2. Place the tomato slices in a plate and refrigerate
  3. In the meantime, crush the garlic cloves and mix them with the oil and salt to obtain a paste
  4. Spread the garlic paste on each tomato slice
  5. Sprinkle some sumac on each slice as well

Tomato seasoned with crushed garlic and sumac ©NadiaenMerijn


Shanklish salad

Shanklish balls  ©Rana Tanissa
Shanklish balls ©Rana Tanissa

Shanklish is an aged cheese covered with thyme, sumac or dried mint. It is made either with goat’s or cow’s milk.
Shanklish is traditionally made in the region of Akkar, and shanklish salad is a common mezze dish served in
Lebanese restaurants.

Total servings: 5
Calories: 150 Kcal/serving


1 shanklish ball

2 tomatoes, diced

1 red onion (or green onion if available), finely chopped

1 green belly pepper, finely chopped

Extra Virgin olive oil

Preparation steps:

  1. Crush the shanklish ball with a fork
  2. Stir in the red onion, green belly pepper and tomatoes
  3. Sprinkle with olive oil
  4. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve




Fattoush – Lebanese mixed salad

Fattoush "king of the table"!
Fattoush “king of the table”!

Prepared and consumed not only in Lebanon, but around the globe, fattoush or Lebanese salad combines a mixture of fresh greens and vegetables served with a lemony dressing. The ingredients used in fattoush vary according to their availability along the seasons. Sometimes, fattoush is served with fried Lebanese or pita bread, but for a healthier version,  opt for baked pita bread instead!

Total servings: 4

Calories: 350 kcal/serving


Half a Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped

3 medium cucumbers, sliced

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 radishes, sliced

½ cup of parsley, coarsely chopped

¼ cup of fresh mint

¼ cup of fresh thyme leaves

½ cup of purslane leaves

3 loaves of Lebanese bread or pita, toasted

1 Tbsp. of sumac

1 Tbsp. of pomegranate molasses

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation steps:

  1. In a large bowl, put all the vegetables together and mix
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients and incorporate them to the vegetables
  3. Serve the fattoush fresh and cold, topped with pieces of the baked pita bread

Fennel Tabbouleh

Fresh fennel tabbouleh
Fresh fennel tabbouleh. Photo ©Toni El Khawand

Fennel tabbouleh also called lentil tabbouleh is exclusively prepared in the villages of Saidoun and Hidab Rimat and in the Caza of Jezzine, South Lebanon. This original version of tabbouleh does not contain parsley at all, and contains much less tomato than the traditional Lebanese tabbouleh. As its name suggests, this tabbouleh is prepared with fennel instead of parlsey, and yellow lentil. Lentil or fennel tabbouleh has a refreshing taste thanks to the essential oils contained in the leaves of fennel (including anethol). It is basically prepared in March, April and May when fennel is available and its leaves are tender.  It is worth to mention that the mixture of this recipe is also used to stuff grape leaves.

This recipe was shared by Toni El Khawand from Saidoun, South of Lebanon.

Servings: 4

Preparation time: 30 mns


1 bunch of fennel, finely chopped

1 glass of yellow lentil, soaked overnight

½ cup of fine bulgur

1 cup of fresh mint, roughly chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

Juice of 2 lemons

¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fennel tabbouleh
It’s all about fresh ingredients! Photo ©Toni El Khawand

Preparation steps:

  1. In a bowl, add in following order the bulgur, lentils, onions and pepper
  2. Add the fresh mint and fennel
  3. Prepare the sauce in a separate bowl: mix the lemon juice, oil and salt
  4. Add the sauce to the salad and mix well
  5. Serve directly