Chef and Palestine on a Plate author Joudie Kalla shares her delicious recipe for Maftoul Tabbouleh

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London-based chef Joudie Kalla has brought traditional, homemade Palestinian recipes to the fore with her cookbook,  Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother's kitchen (£25, Jacqui Small). Creating recipes that are the 'real deal' rather than modern interpretations of Middle Eastern cooking, the book is full of delicious dishes that are bursting with colour and flavour. Here, Joudie shares a recipe for a tangy, Palestinian pearl cous cous tabbouleh to whet your appetite and brighten up your winter plate...

Maftoul Tabbouleh

"Tabbouleh is usually made up of burghul (cracked wheat), parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions, lemon juice and olive oil, but as my mother used to feel bloated after eating burghul, she decided to leave it out. You must cut the tomatoes and spring onions into really small and equal-sized pieces to make a good tabbouleh otherwise it is just a chopped salad. I love tabbouleh served with crisp romaine lettuce and chillies, but wanted to make it more of a main meal instead of an accompaniment to something, so I added maftoul, which gives it a hearty, satisfying feel. It is one of those dishes that is found in every restaurant, home, coffee shop and deli in Palestine and also over here in the UK. It is simple, fresh, tangy, livens the taste buds and awakens the mouth."

Serves 4–6


450g (1lb) maftoul (Palestinian pearl cous cous)
700ml (1. pints) water
5 tomatoes
a bunch of spring onions
a large bunch of fresh
flat-leaf parsley
juice of 3 lemons
1 tablespoon sea salt
olive oil

To serve (optional):
cos or Romaine lettuce leaves
1 chopped green chilli


Begin by boiling the maftoul and the water in a saucepan for 25–30 minutes, until it has just passed the al dente stage. Remove and rinse under cold water, drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes and spring onions into small equal-sized pieces. Chop the parsley until it is small but don’t overdo it, as you don’t want to bruise the leaves.

Mix all the chopped ingredients together in a bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt and olive oil to taste. This salad should be sharp and tangy to contrast against the creaminess of the maftoul and there should be plenty of parsley mixed through (it is essentially a parsley salad).

Enjoy the tabbouleh with fresh crisp lettuce leaves and if you like, as I do, add some chopped green chilli to bring out the flavour.

Recipe and images extracted from Palestine on a Plate: Memories from my mother’s kitchen by Joudie Kalla, photography by Ria Osbourne, published by Jacqui Small (£25).  Buy online here