Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cracked Wheat Tabbouleh - Leftover Rescue to Lunchtime Staple




Its not every day that I write a post munching on the dish, the post is about. But then, there's always a first time. I am pretty sure by the time I hit the 'Publish' button it will be way beyond midnight. At least in some parts of the world.









My love affair with Tabbouleh started a couple of years ago, when I was searching for an innovative recipe for Daliya (Cracked Wheat in Bengali), apart from the usual Pulao (pilaf) or Khichuri (a risotto of lentils and grains). Tabbouleh was like a breath of fresh air to this herb loving; salad munching soul of mine.






Tabbouleh is a Levitine (region encompassing Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Syria, parts of southern Turkey and northern Iraq) Arab Salad, traditionally served as a part of mezze (selection of small dishes served in the Middle East,the Balkans, Levantine and Caucasian cuisines, served at the beginning of all large-scale meals).

Traditionally, its made of Bulgur Wheat.
Tomatoes, cucumbers, finely chopped parsley, mint, onion, and garlic are few of its main components. Its liberally seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and salt,


I have made made Tabbouleh with bulgur wheat, cracked wheat, quinoa and couscous. Cracked Wheat is by far my favorite grain to make Tabbouleh. Its a lot chewier and has more flavor. Actually Bulgur Wheat and Cracked Wheat is the same thing, only at different stages of processing. Bulgur is cracked wheat that has been steamed partially, where as, cracked wheat is the raw, non cooked product.





A lot had changed in the constitution of Tabbouleh, once it traveled to the Western world. Originally, what was an herb salad, speckled with bulgur, slowly transitioned to an full blown bulgur salad with herbs thrown in. My version is some what a cross between the traditional and the modern.




I love herbs and add loads of it. I also throw in a good measure of grains (cracked wheat in my case), mainly because Tabbouleh is a complete meal for me. I like adding almonds or walnuts for that extra crunch. Cooked brown chickpea often finds its way to my Tabbouleh, simply because I love its earthiness and it also packs a nutritional punch. Tomatoes, cucumbers onions (the red variety or scallion only) are the standard addition.



Herbs are the soul of a good Tabbouleh. Parsley and mint are the most commonly used herbs. Coriander leaves or cilantro is generally not an herb you associate with Tabbouleh. But I use it if, I am running low on parsley.



The dressing is simple and basic. Olive oil, lemon juice (lots of it) and salt. Pinch of ground cumin or cayenne is often used to give an edge. For me simple and basic works the best.




The best about Tabbouleh is you can feel free to throw in anything, without getting too much stressed. This has actually resulted in many creative and delicious avatars of the Tabbouleh.





Recipe Snapshot: Cracked Wheat Tabbouleh

Serves: 2 serving
(1 serving = 1 cup)

What I used:
Cracked Wheat (cooked) - 1/4 cup

Flat Leaf Parsley (finely chopped) - 1.5 cups

Mint (finely chopped) - 1/4 cup
(I feel mint is a strong herb and just used a little. Feel free to add more. Most recipes use 1 cup)

Tomatoes (chopped) - 1/2 cup

(since I used grape tomatoes, I simply halved it)

Cucumber (chopped) - 1/2 cup

Red onion (coarsely chopped) - 1/4 cup

Brown Chickpeas (cooked) - 1/4 cup (optional)

Almonds/Walnuts (coarsely chopped) - 2 tbsp (optional)

Lemon  - 1

Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 2 tbsp

Coarse Sea Salt - 1.5 tsp
(a lot less if using regular table salt)

What I did:
1. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked Cracked Wheat. Add 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and juice of almost half a lemon and mix. The cracked wheat must be warm to absorb the lemon juice-olive oil mix. If using cold left overs, warm it in the microwave for a minute. 

2. Next, add the finely chopped herbs and mix well.

3. Now add the paraphernalia - tomatoes, cucumber, onions, chickpeas and nuts. Toss to combine.

4. Add the remaining one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of the remaining lemon. Season with salt. 

5. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour before serving. Refrigerate if you want to serve later than one hour. 



Notes/Tip: 

1. I cook the Cracked Wheat like a pasta. I bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Then add the cracked wheat. One its tender (in about 5-7 mins), I drain it. I cook the quinoa exactly the same way. 

2. For bulgur or couscous, I follow the packet instructions. 

3. Ground cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and even a pinch of ground all spice are spices that can be added for a special spunk. 


Diabetic Platter:
Cracked wheat is just what it sounds like: the cracked berries of whole wheat. The distinctively nutty food is versatile, low in calories and loaded with nutrients. Cracked wheat and other whole grains are good sources of magnesium. This mineral is essential to more than 300 enzymes, especially those that contribute to insulin secretion and the release of glucose into the bloodstream. The risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be up to 30 percent lower in people who consume cracked wheat and other whole grains regularly.

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