Winter Tabbouleh or Qawarma Tabbouleh

Qawarma tabbouleh served with boiled cabbage leaves
Qawarma tabbouleh served with boiled cabbage leaves

Qawarma tabbouleh is prepared in the Lebanese mountains during winter when summer vegetables (tomato, parsley and green onions) are out of season. It is cooked in the West Bekaa and Shouf villages with “Qawarma” or lamb meat preserved in fat and served with boiled cabbage leaves.

Total Servings: 4


1 cup of coarse bulgur

1 cup of chickpeas, pealed and boiled (save the water when you drain)

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 cup of Qawarma

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small cabbage

1 Tbsp. of dry mint

 Preparation Steps:

  1. Wash the cabbage leaves and cook them in the chickpea water
  2. In a pot, melt the qawarma and stir in the onions, chickpeas, and bulgur
  3. Season with salt, pepper and dry mint
  4. Serve the tabbouleh hot with the cooked cabbage leaves




Hosts and local guides

Mohamad Temrez, Maasser El Shouf

Mohamad Temrez

Spending a weekend in Maasser el Shouf and not knowing what to do? The shepherd Mohammad Temrez will take you on walk with his Baladi Goats in the surrounding hills of this charming village. He will tell you all about the wild plants his goats graze on and stories about the village and the Shouf.

Where to eat and sleep

Salim el Achkar, Khreibet el Shouf

Salim Ashkar

Many of those who visit the Shouf Cedar Biosphere Reserve and walk its trails have had a meal or sleep over at El Achkar Guesthouse. This marvellous old house, hidden in a small street in Khreibet el Shouf,  covered with green leaves is the perfect place for a weekend recluse, away from the daily noises of the city.

Salim, the owner of the guesthouse, explains how ecotourism changed his life. Originally working his constructor, Salim was approached by ecotourism specialists 10 years ago with the idea of hosting people in his house. After getting a fund from USAID, he renovated the house and equipped to be able to receive 20 people. Currently he operates as a full time Bed and Breakfast and his residence is listed as one of LMT guesthouses.

Salim preparing the backyard garden to receive his guests
Salim preparing the backyard garden to receive his guests

His mother, a witty lady with an amazing sense of humour, is the main food orchestrator behind the scenes.

salim ashkar4

Forming part of the food trail, Salim and his mom will serve you seasonal menus highlighting traditional specialties from the Shouf.

Omayshe served with roasted onions
Omayshe served with roasted onions

Omayshe with grilled onions, Mansoufet el Shouf and Tomato Kebbeh are few of the dishes that you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner at Table d’hôte Salim El Achkar.

Tel: +961 5 311 999 – +961 3 354 558

Capacity: 15 persons

Food Tourism Activities

Making Tomato Paste

Tomato paste, like many other preserves in the Lebanese repertoire of moune, is a way to conserve foods for consumption during the scarce winter season, and for the times when that tomatoes are not fresh and available.

tomato sauce
Enjoying tomato picking at a local farm

Freshly picked tomatoes are cleaned and juiced, either manually or using a tomato juicer, discarding at this stage both skin and seeds, usually composted or used as feed for chicken. The juice is then heated – traditionally over wood fire – until the juice thickens to reach the right concentration, reducing to at least half the original volume.

tomato sauce
Making tomato paste the traditional way, on wood fire

On the food trail, regional differences between West Bekaa and Higher Shouf can be appreciated in tomato concentrate making.

In Higher Shouf, the tomato paste is not too concentrated, made from Jabaliye tomatoes and reduced over wood fire. It is often eaten raw in a sandwich with fresh oregano leaves and olive oil, and is also used in cooking.

tomato sauce 1
Can you smell that? 🙂

In West Bekaa, many leave the tomato concentrate to further dry in the blistering heat of the sun for 2-3 days, becoming a thick paste, mainly used in cooking.

Tomato Paste Kherbet Qanafar
The thick paste is then dried under the burning summer sun 

On the food trail, several hosts open their houses for tourists to join in tomato harvesting and tomato paste making.

tomato sauce


Shouf Villages


About 60 Km away from Beirut and 1050 meters above sea level, this village is characterized for its traditional Lebanese houses, its Saint Georges Church and some ancient ruins and monuments such as the olive oil presses, sarcophagi and the Joumblatt family Serail dating from the Ottoman period.

Today, the village is known among hikers and nature lovers because it is home to a beautiful guesthouse, owned and run by the Al Achkar family, a mother and her son.

Agriculture and Environment 

Six water sources surround the village and contribute to its lush green atmosphere. These are Ain el Chatawiyeh, Ain el Jadida, Ain el Qadima, Ain el Mechqer, Ain Aadas, and Ain Amer. An old oak tree characterizes its main square which is the connecting point to surrounding villages such as Maasser el Shouf and Mrosti. The village is mainly known for its olive orchards and its olive oil production.

Olive Orchards Khraybet el Shouf

Visiting Khraybet el Shouf

When visiting the village and sleeping over at its heavenly nested old guesthouse, ask the hosts to prepare you some the traditional dishes best known in the higher Shouf region, namely Omayshe  – a warm paste made of kishk, fine bulgur and extra virgin olive oil – and accompanied by grilled onions, a full fledged villager’s meal!

Omayshe Khraybet el Shouf

Shouf Villages


niha fort ..
© Sally Abi Khalil

Niha was inhabited since the Roman times, the Crusaders, the Mamlouks’ and the Ottomans’. The most famous monument in Niha is the cave fortress (Cave of Tyron). This cave was fortified by the Crusaders, the Arabs, and the Mameluk and used to control the vital road linking Saïda to the Beqaa Valley.

The shrine of Nabi Ayoub, or Job, is the second most famous monument in Niha.The shrine is built on a summit overlooking the village of Niha, where the prophet Job is believed to be buried. Pilgrims frequently visit this site searching for its benediction. Niha is rich in old springs such as Ain el Qataa, Nabeh Niha and the very old Ain el Halqoum.

However one should not forget other very old or recent attractions that forged the celebrity of the village: its old traditional houses, its two ancient churches in Niha (Saint Joseph and Saint Georges) as well as two old bridges (El Jisr el Tahtani and Jisr Tariq el Nahr) and an old water mill. Niha now has a well run private guesthouse, and an information center run by the Shouf Biosphere Reserve.

Altitude between 1050 and 1850 meters
Distance from Beirut 65 km

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Hosts and local guides

May Kanaan, Mrosti


“Bumble bee”! There is no better word to describe May’s vivacious character. Full of energy, an entrepreneur by nature, and simply a joyful person to be around, May has been working in food for as long as she can remember.

Training as a butcher with her father in her village Mrosti, May decided to open a mini-market after the closing of the butcher shop.

Today, she is known for her Saj bread making, her fatayer and Mana’ish. May will also take you to collect wild edible plants in the Wild, from which she will make amazing fatayer, a highlight on seasonality!

Hosts and local guides

Bassima, Mrosti


A mother of four, Bassima has been preparing mouneh for more than 20 years “the way my mother taught me”. With pride showing in her eyes and voice, Bassima explains that her mouneh is made of fresh products cultivated in her land or collects it herself in the wild.

Her star products are tomato paste made of locally grown tomatoes know as banadoura jabaliyeh.
Also, ask her for her exceptional apple jams and jelly, deliciously flavored with geranium leaves. You will most probably get a chance to try it as part of her desserts.

Shouf Villages



Mrosti village is situated in higher Shouf, it is renowned for its millennium oak woods, the Ottoman bridge in addition to the Roman and Byzantine ruins. There is also an old grape press and three natural springs: Ain el Ghabeh; Ain el Tahta, and Jeita Spring. The Jeita Spring is considered blessed and holy. The Khalwat al-Sheikh al-Sadeq (Druze’s holy place) dates back to the 16th Century and is the main religious attraction of the village.

The square of the village is mostly (particularly) famous for the statue of Kamal Bek Joumblatt.

Altitude between 1250 and 1750 meters
Distance from Beirut 67 km