Sunday, October 12, 2008

the other side of rice

unless you have grown up with it as part of the food your family ate, bulgur not "cracked wheat" with which it is often confused is most probably one of those food items you are not too familiar with. these days, however, it is becoming as popular as other commonly consumed grains like rice.

bulgur wheat can be used in a myriad of ways to produce many delicious recipes and has a very long history with those peoples who have originally used it as a staple. it is a healthy grain and is great for vegetarians and vegans as it can be used for innumerable meatless dishes.

before using bulgur wheat it is important to realize that it comes in different degrees of fineness, from coarse to medium to fine. often, they will be marked with only numbers such as "no#1", continuing with 2, 3 & sometimes 4. ideally, each is used in a specific way for the particular recipe you are making. not all supermarkets carry all the different grinds so you may need to make a trip to a store which specializes in selling items like this. note also that there is a dark kind of bulgur [most common] and a golden one. for the following recipe, you will need the coarse grind (brown or golden).

rice-like once cooked, coarse bulgur wheat is almost always exclusively used to make dolma (stuffed vegetables) and pilavs. here, i am using it the way we ate it at home; an excellent side dish and alternative for rice and couscous, bulgur pilav is very popular and goes well with fish and meat. it is really one of my favourite ways to enjoy bulgur wheat.

if you can make rice, you can make this pilav. you'll also make it again and again!

bulgur pilav


1 c coarse grind bulgur (medium is ok but coarse is best)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
2 tbsp margarine + 2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium sized tomato, chopped OR,
1 tbsp red pepper paste or tomato paste
1 1/2 c stock or water*
salt & pepper as need/wanted

*usually it is a 1:2 ratio of bulgur to water but here you want only 1 1/2 cups so the finished dish will be al dente.


melt the 2 tbsp of margarine in a fry pan or casserole which has a tight fitting lid.

add the chopped onion and fry it over medium heat until it starts to brown. at this point, add the garlic if using.

add the tomato and fry it with the onion (and garlic) for about 5 minutes. stir it every minute or two.

add the stock or water and salt and pepper. if the stock is not salted, or if you are using water, you will need more salt. it is usually around 1/2 tsp salt + 1/8 tsp black pepper. bring this to a boil.

add the 2 tbsp of olive oil and the bulgur wheat and stir. bring it up to a boil again.

turn down the heat to minimum and place the lid on the pan. cook it for about 20/25 minutes as you would for rice.

at the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and check to see all the water has been absorbed. stir the mixture and place the lid back on.

remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving. it should be al dente and not mushy.

you can either place the bulgur in molds and press it in firmly, unmolding it on your serving plates or just serve as you would for rice.



Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A great dish! I love bulghur and sometimes use it instead of rice. I even eat it for dessert (just like rice pudding)...

Cheers and have a nice week,


burekaboy — said...

rosa - i actually eat more bulgur than rice. we make this thing called prehito that is quite sweet and has bulgur in it but i don't like it. i hate rice pudding, too, LOL.

sari said...

i can only get medium or fine grind here :( , such a pity not to be able to make this bulgur!!
btw, if you ever try my rice pudding, you'd love it, 100% spanish, nothing to do with other countries recipes : it was invented here and we call it arroz con leche, no pudding texture at all!!

burekaboy — said...

sari - you can make it with medium grain also, only the texture will be a bit finer. it will taste the same. arroz con leche .... nunca! LOL. i can't stand rice with sweet stuff. ok, i'd try it but really -- lo odio!!

~~louise~~ said...

Hi bb,
is this the same kind of bulgur recipe that one would use in stuffed grape leaves which, I absolutely LOVE!

burekaboy — said...

hi louise - it's very similar; there are lots of different fillings, vegetarian and meat. funny you mention them as i just made some the other weekend! :)

sari said...

finally found coarse bulgur and made your dish. it tasted great, so few and humble ingredients and...what a nice side dish!!!