Earthy, nutty, and gooey, bulgur is a versatile whole-wheat cereal grain cooked into breakfast meals, breads, desserts, stews, salads, and pilafs.
What is bulgur?
Bulgur is made from wheat groats, the whole-wheat grain consisting of kernel germ (nutrient-rich embryo), bran (grain coating), and endosperm (grain interior). Besides other wheat species, durum wheat is specifically used in bulgur production. The mature bulgur wheat is parboiled, dried, and ground to finally reach the market. It has been a very popular food in the Middle East, where it originates. Bulgur comes in a range of different textures from fine to medium to coarse. Different bulgur grains require their own specific cooking methods. Evenly sized grains are considered the most premium-quality bulgur.
Flavor and uses
Bulgur offers an earthy, mild, and nutty flavor that serves as a close alternative to rice, quinoa, and couscous. Bulgur doesn’t require cooking as it is pre-boiled before drying and cracking. It swells up after being soaked in water for a few minutes, after which it can be consumed directly. However, several sweet, and savory dishes require thorough cooking of bulgur wheat. Bulgur is one of the versatile foods incorporated into breakfast cereals, desserts, stews, salads, pilafs.
A savory yet tangy Turkish salad, kisir is made from bulgur wheat, tomato paste, parsley, onions, sour pomegranate molasses, and spices as the main. Bulgur wheat tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad prepared with bulgur wheat, onions, tomatoes, mint, parsley, lemons, and olive oil.
In Armenia, bulgur is utilized in aromatic and nutritiously-rich pilafs made with broth, bulgur wheat, onions, spices, herbs, and served with sautéed vermicelli. Kibbeh is a traditional recipe in Lebanon and Syria that is prepared from meat, soaked bulgur wheat, and a variety of aromatic spices.
Besides the savory use of bulgur in Middle Eastern cuisine, Pakistani-Indian cuisine slow-cooks bulgur wheat with sugar, milk, saffron, cardamom, and nuts to prepare a gooey-milky sweet dish called kheer. Breakfast bulgur is another sweet variation of this amazing groat cereal, prepared from coarse bulgur, grape molasses, rose water, and a handful of nuts.
Bulgur is gradually gaining popularity outside of the Middle East, as many people discover the health benefits and versatility of this ingredient, which can be used in a multitude of savory, tangy, and sweet recipes morning, noon, or night.