Here’s where the debate begins. Is there a difference between tabbouleh and eech? Some say there is a difference; others say they are one-in-the-same.
Ask a connoisseur, and they’ll tell you that tabbouleh uses uncooked ingredients, whereas eech ingredients are cooked.
Frankly, it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other; they use similar ingredients and taste great. What else do you need to know?
When I spoke at St. David Women’s Guild last November, I served the members my maternal grandmother’s sarma gurgood and banerov hatz recipes. A few days later, guild member Lucy Hamalian, emailed me two recipes from her friend Helen Der Aprahamian – tabbouleh and eech. Helen is originally from Syria, as were my maternal grandparents – even so, their tabbouleh recipes are different.
Since my grandmother never made eech, I wanted to test Helen’s recipe, which was modified by Lucy.
(See my notes and evaluation at the end.)
Helen Der Aprahamian’s (Modified) Eech Recipe
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion (finely chopped – Cook half of it in olive oil and save the uncooked half to mix with parsley for topping.)
- ½ green pepper (finely chopped)
- ½ bunch flat-leaf Italian parsley (finely chopped – Use 3/4 of it in mixture and save 1/4 to mix with onion for topping.)
- 1 8- oz. can tomato sauce
- ¾ cup water
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 ½ tsp. dried mint (crushed)
- ½ tsp. dried basil (crushed )
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- 1 cup bulgur, fine (#1 size)
- Sauté onion and pepper in olive oil until soft. Add tomato sauce, water, lemon juice and seasonings. Stir well, bring to a boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add bulgur, stirring well. Stir in 3/4 of the chopped parsley.
- When cool enough to handle, scoop up a handful and shape into equal-sized sausage shapes until mixture is all used. up (or- I like to use a 1/3 cup measuring cup for a uniform shape and look when it is inverted. Sprinkle the top with reserved mixture of onion and parsley mixture.
- I used:
• a mixture of miniature red, yellow and orange peppers instead of green peppers.
• red pepper paste in addition to tomato paste plus enough water to create the 8 oz. of sauce.
- The #1 bulgur softens nicely in the hot mixture, and holds its shape well for the presentation.
- You can add seasonings of your choice to suit your taste.
Needless to say, we enjoyed it very much, but I’ll stick to my grandmother’s uncooked tabbouleh (sarma gurgood) rather than cooked eech – only because there are fewer things to wash at the end!