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A History of the Origin of Tabbouleh : Lebanon's National Food

posted on: Jul 28, 2021

By: Noura Abou Hamze/Arab America Contributing Writer

What is Tabbouleh ?

It is a Middle Eastern dish made of bulgur wheat, finely chopped herbs, and spices. Tabbouleh is often served as an appetizer, a salad, or part of a mezze, the Middle Eastern equivalent of tapas. Tabbouleh is thought to have originated in Lebanon, where it is the national dish. However, today people from all over the world know love, and enjoy tabbouleh. It is a “rock star” salad, especially in vegetarian and vegan cuisines. This refreshing summer treat goes well with any dishes!

Origins of Tabbouleh

Edible herbs formed an essential part of Arabs’ diet in the Middle Ages. Dishes like tabbouleh attest to their continued popularity in Middle Eastern cuisine today. Originally from the mountains of Syria and Lebanon, tabbouleh has become one of the most popular salads in the Middle East. The word Tabbouleh is derived from the Arabic word taabil which translates to seasoning or ‘spice’.

It was there that the herbs known as qadb (Medicago sativa) flourished in the mountainous hillsides. In the tabbouleh of today, bulgur wheat or a similar hearty grain takes center stage, but years ago it was lush greens that provided the color, flavor, and bulk of tabbouleh, and the Arab diet.

Today tabbouleh is almost synonymous with Lebanese cuisine. It appears on every table, at every feast and is popular in vegan and vegetarian diets.

Variations of tabbouleh can be found throughout the Middle East and beyond, from the Armenian ‘eetch’ to the Turkish ‘kisir’ right through to the Cypriot ‘tambouli’. Lebanese immigrants even introduced a version of tabbouleh to the Dominican Republic known as ‘tipile’.

Not only that but few foods have won over the hearts of their fans quite like tabbouleh, particularly in Lebanon where there is even a national day celebrated in its honor. The first Saturday of July each year is known as National Tabbouleh Day, with people getting together to enjoy this beloved dish in homes, parks and restaurants all over the country.

Main Ingredients of Tabbouleh

Bulgur – One of the tabbouleh’s most recognizable ingredients, bulgur is made of wheat berries. They can be partially ground, cooked, and dried.

Parsley – Tabbouleh’s greens are provided mostly in the form of fresh parsley.


Seasonings – Quality olive oil is an absolute must as it is a serious splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you are looking for a little extra kick, add pomegranate juice and enjoy!

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