Apr 11, 2007

Sampling the Lebanese cuisine

The title of this post could have very well been “In the quest for Bulgur”, because that’s what I did. Right after Meeta announced the theme for the month’s MM as Arabian Nights, I paid a visit to the local library. While majority of the Middle East food falls in the non-veg category, I was lucky to find a book that included some good vegetarian dishes. “Cooking the Lebanese Way” written by Suad Amari focuses on the Lebanese cuisine. The author starts off with an alluring description of the land and history of Lebanon. My Geography knowledge got a lift when I learned that Lebanon is the smallest country in the Middle East; it is about 30 miles wide and 135 miles long. Lebanon produces almost all of its food. The farmers cut flat fields out of the steep hillsides and mountain slopes. The Lebanese population contains a blend of Muslims and Christians. All festivals from Eid to Easter are celebrated in the company of friends, family, and food. Lebanese do most of their shopping in street markets called souks in Arabic. Different types of goods are grouped and sold in souks. There are different streets for spice sellers, perfume sellers, meat sellers, and vegetable and fruit sellers.

The writer then explains the different cooking utensils used in Lebanon. Colander, sieve, and slotted spoon are some common cooking utensils. After this, the author takes us straight to a Lebanese table, emphasizing that it is always crowded. A table is crowded with friends and family and also with a vast array of dishes. Dishes of all shapes, sizes, flavors, and aromas greet the guests. The writer then presents recipes grouped under lunch or dinner. After leafing through the book, I short-listed what I wanted to make for the event. I had first heard about Bulgur from Manasi’s blog. And then this book introduced me to yet another dish. I asked all my friends going for grocery shopping to fetch me some “Bulgur”. Absolutely no one had heard about this grain before and I had a jolly good time pronouncing it for everyone. No one could locate bulgur in any of the shops and my enquiries to the shop helpers yielded blank expressions. My joy knew no bound when hubby located bulgur in the “Mediterranean” section of Meijer.

Bulgur is one of the most popular foods in Lebanon. Here’s the recipe for a refreshing salad that is part of Lebanese cuisine.

Bulgur Salad/Tabbouleh

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)
1.2 cups bulgur
2.1 onion, finely chopped
3.4 large tomatoes, chopped
4.1 cup scallions, finely chopped
5.2 small cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped.
6.½ cup olive oil
7.6 tbsp lemon juice
8.1 tsp salt
9.½ tsp pepper
10.6 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
11.3 tbsp chopped fresh mint or 1 tbsp dried mint

1.Place bulgur in a colander and rinse under cold running water. I did not have a colander, so I simply washed the bulgur in a utensil. Press bulgur between your hands and remove excess water. Return bulgur to colander and let it drain over a bowl for one hour. Discard the drained water.
2.In a large mixing bowl, combine bulgur with all remaining ingredients.
3.Place mixture in a large serving bowl. Chill before serving.

This goes straight to Meeta’s table as an entry for the “Arabian Nights” MM. Meeta, thanks for hosting the MM with this wonderful theme!


Sia's Corner said...

thats interesting recipe swapna. i must say coz of all these blog events we try new recipes which otherwise we would never have even thought of:)

Meeta said...

Just great! Thanks for the entry.

Ayesha Seerin said...

I've been on the look for good arabian dishes... I love this recipe...