How to Prepare Tabbouleh

Posted on 26. Mar, 2013 by in Culture, Current Affairs

Marhaba (مرحبا)! Today, I am going to teach you how to prepare Tabbouleh (التبولة) which is a tasty and healthy (صحي) vegetarian appetizer (مقبلات نباتية ) that is popular in the Middle East and especially in Lebanon. Like the tasty dish Moujadara, this is one of the most popular appetizers throughout the year and during Lent. It is the most common appetizer served at all Levantine restaurants (المطاعم) and it is one of the principal dishes offered along with Mezza.

We had friends over for lunch this past weekend and my wife and I decided to serve Tabbouleh as our principal salad rather than a normal green salad made of lettuce (الخس), tomatoes (طماطم) and cucumbers (خيار).  Even though it is very simple and easy to prepare, this appetizer requires some practice and time to get the right taste (نكهة). In some instances, some ingredients are hard to find. In a nutshell, you need parsley (البقدونس), tomatoes, onions, burghul (البرغل) (kind of cracked wheat), lemons (ليمون), olive oil (زيت الزيتون) and salt and pepper (الملح والبهار) for final touches. As you can see, the most of the ingredients are easy to find, but bulghur is not. For example, the right burghul might not be available in some cities/countries. My wife and I usually shop at a local Lebanese market that imports  fine bulghur directly from Syria and Lebanon.

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I am sharing the recipe that my wife and I use to prepare this popular appetizer from a popular blog called Mama’s Lebanese Kitchen. It is a Lebanese recipes and food blog and contains many genuine and authentic Middle Eastern recipes. I have also added a YouTube video in Arabic that shows you how to prepare this vegetarian and healthy, beyond tasty, appetizer. From our personal experience, this recipe makes around 6-7 servings and takes around 30 minutes to prepare. Imagine that in about half an hour, you will have one of the tastiest salads ever!!

Ingredients (7 servings)

  • 4 bunches of Parsley chopped finely (مفرومة فرما ناعما), drained
  • 1 bunch of fresh green mint chopped finely, drained (optional)
  • 1 cucumber chopped finely (if using regular cucumbers, use only up to 4 inches of it)
  • 5 medium sized tomatoes chopped, drained
  • 1 small white onion chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup of fine Burghul (fine cracked wheat #1)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup of quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 teaspoon of Lebanese 7-Spices*

* Lebanese 7-Spices contain equal proportions of the following ground spices: Allspice, Black Pepper (البهار الأسود), Cinnamon (قرفة), Ground Cloves (القرنفل ), Ground Nutmeg (جوزة الطيب), Fenugreek (حلبة نبات), Powdered Ginger (زنجبيل)

Preparation Method

  1. Rinse (شطف) all vegetables and let dry, especially the parsley and mint.
  2. Cut stems off parsley then chop finely. Spread chopped parsley on paper towels and let rest for a few minutes in order to get rid of the moisture (رطوبة). Parsley needs to be dry of moisture before adding it to the mixing bowl.
  3. Cut stems off mint, and finely chop the leaves. Lay them on a paper towel and let dry.
  4. Chop tomatoes into small cubes of less than 1/2 in then place in strainer to rid them of the juice.
  5. Finely chop onions and mix with 7-spices.
  6. Finely chop the cucumber.

 

Once ready to serve, add the lemon juice on top of the dry Burghul, add the olive oil and salt all over the ingredients and then mix lightly with a fork and avoid over-mixing so it doesn’t turn soggy. My wife and I usually serve Tabbouleh with lettuce or cabbage (ملفوف). It also goes well with French Fries (بطاطس مقلية)! You might have had tabbouleh at a Mediterranean restaurant, but now it is your chance to give it a shot and impress your family and friends with this healthy, simple and extremely tasty appetizer.

 

I encourage and invite you all to give it a try and let me know how it goes.

 Sahtein!!!

صَحتين

Stay tuned for upcoming posts

Malak Hefny Nassef

Posted on 23. Mar, 2013 by in art, Culture, History, Language, Literature

Malak Hefny Nassef (ملك حفني ناصف) is an Egyptian writer and a leading feminist. She was born in Cairo in 1886 to an educated family. Her father was a judge and a well-known writer. He was also one of the founders of the Egyptian University.  Malak Hefny Nassef is the first Arab woman to receive the primary school certificate in 1900, and follow it by further study. She knew Arabic, English and French, which helped her expand her knowledge.

In 1907, Malak Hefny Nassef got married to Abdel Sattar Al-Bassel, the head of the Bassel tribe in Fayoum. After moving to Fayoum, she assumed the title of (باحثة البادية) which means ‘the Researcher of the Desert’

Malak Hefny Nassef was one of the first Arab women  to call for women’s education, and wrote various articles defending women’s rights under the penname of (باحثة البادية). She published various articles about women’s rights in ‘Al-Jareeda’ newspaper, and then she collected them in a book called (النسائيات) in two volumes. She started another book about women’s rights called (حقوق النساء), which she died before completing it. She established a couple of women’s organizations to support women and to encourage them to help their communities, e.g. (جمعية التمريض) which collected medicines and clothes to send them to vulnerable communities in Egypt and Arab countries.

 

Malak Hefny Nassef died in 1918 after serious illness.

To My Mother

Posted on 21. Mar, 2013 by in Arabic Language, art, Culture, Current Affairs, Language

Marhaba (مرحبا)! A few months ago, I introduced you all to one of my favorite Arab artists, the accomplished Oud player, composer and singer, Marcel Khalife (مارسيل خليفة). Mother’s Day in the Arab world falls on March 21st of every year, coinciding with the beginning of spring (الربيع) On the occasion of Mother’s Day, which is one of the most glorious and important holidays of the year, I want to share with you all another masterpiece by Khalife, called To My Mother (الى أمّي) The song’s lyrics are in fact a poem by the prominent and famous Palestinian poet, the late, Mahmoud Darwish (محمود درويش). The story for this song is an actual personal experience that Darwish had while serving as a political prisoner of Israel. He recounted that while in prison, his mother came to him one time carrying bread and fresh-brewed coffee that the officer threw on the ground after preventing her from seeing Darwish. Thus, this poem was written by him while still in prison as a homage to his mother and to her bread and coffee that he missed. However, many individuals usually claim that Darwish was metaphorically talking about Palestine.

 

I have added the poem in Arabic and I have translated it to English so that you can follow with the song which is in form of a YouTube video. Regardless of whether this song is meant to recount the grievances of the Palestinian people or simply words of respect and admiration from Darwish to his mother, the core message of this poem is beautiful and requires recognition. Khalife in turn has made this poem even more beautiful by strumming his oud and singing these mesmerizing words. With its deep meanings, this poem captures the specific cultural and traditional positions that a mother carries in the Arabic culture and among Arab people.

إلى أمي

To My Mother

أحنُّ إلى خبز أُمي

I long for my mother’s bread

وقهوة أُمي

And my mother’s coffee

ولمسة أُمي..

And my mother’s touch…

وتكبرُ فيَّ الطفولةُ

My childhood grows within me

يومًا على صدر يومِ

Day after day

وأعشَقُ عمرِي لأني

I love my life because

إذا مُتُّ،

If I died

أخجل من دمع أُمي!

I would be embarrassed by my mother’s tears

خذيني، إذا عدتُ يومًا

Take me, if I return one day

وشاحًا لهُدْبِكْ

As a scarf for your lashes

وغطّي عظامي بعشب

And cover my bones with grass

تعمَّد من طهر كعبك

Baptized by the purity of your heel

وشُدّي وثاقي ..

Tie me up

بخصلة شَعر ..

With a lock of hair

بخيطٍ يلوِّح في ذيل ثوبك ..

With a thread that points to the tail of your dress

عساني أصيرُ إلهًا

Perhaps I will become a god

إلهًا أصير ..

A god I would become

إذا ما لمستُ قرارة قلبك !

If I felt the bottom of your heart

ضعيني، إذا ما رجعتُ

Put me, if I return

وقودًا بتنور ناركْ ..

As fuel to light your fire

وحبل غسيل على سطح دارك

And a wash line on your house’s roof

لأني فقدتُ الوقوفَ

Because I’ve lost my strength to stand

بدون صلاة نهارك

Without the prayer of your day

هَرِمْتُ، فردّي نجوم الطفولة

I’ve grown old… return the stars of childhood

حتى أُشارك

So I can share

صغار العصافير

with the sparrow chicks

درب الرجوع ..

The way back

لعُش انتظارِك

To the nest of your waiting

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On the blessed occasion of Mother’s Day, I would first like to wish my dear mother a happy and long life. My last but not least wishes go out to all the mothers out there and the mothers to be, in the Arab world and beyond, a very Happy Mother’s Day! Just like the advent of Spring and the transition from winter, may all your days blossom and grow into eternal moments of happiness (فرح) and good health (صحة جيدة), and may all your winter days be short and away.

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

Have a nice day!

نهاركم سعيد