Bulgar or bulgur known as u00cfu0080u00ceu00bbu00ceu00b9u00ceu00b3u00ceu00bfu00cfu008du00cfu0081u00ceu00b9, (pligoúri), inu00c2u00a0Greeku00c2u00a0or u00cfu0080u00ceu00bfu00cfu0085u00cfu0081u00ceu00b3u00ceu00bfu00cfu008du00cfu0081u00ceu00b9, (pourgouri) in Cyprus and as burghulu00c2u00a0(u00d8u00a8u00d8u00b1u00d8u00bau00d9u0084)u00c2u00a0inu00c2u00a0Arabic) is au00c2u00a0cerealu00c2u00a0food made from several differentu00c2u00a0wheatu00c2u00a0species, but most often fromu00c2u00a0durumu00c2u00a0wheat.
Bulgar holds a place in recipes similar to rice or cous cous but with a higher nutritional value. Best known as an ingredient in tabouli salad, bulgur is also a tasty, low-fat ingredientu00c2u00a0 (not to mention cheap and healthy), in pilafu00c2u00a0soup, bakery goods, stuffing or casseroles. It is an ideal food in a vegetarian diet because of its nutritional value and versatility. It is excellent as a meat extender or meat substitute in vegetarian dishes, and is a component of many varieties of meatless burgers found on supermarket shelves everywhere.
Making wheat into bulgar is an ancient process that originated in the Mediterranean and has been an integral part of Greek or Middle Eastern cuisine for thousands of years. Biblical references indicate it was prepared by ancient Babylonians, Hittites and Hebrew populations some 4, 000 years ago, and Arab, Israeli, Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilizations record eating dried cooked wheat as early as 1, 000 B.C.
Often confused with cracked wheat, bulgar differs in that it has been pre-cooked by par-boiling. This process makes bulgur easy to cook but also has removed certain nutrients from the less digestible outer layers into the centre of the grain, making them more easy to cook with.
When I first came to Greece and mentioned bulgur, I usually got some scornful looks from friends and relatives, maybe because it was some of the food they ate during the German occupation and ended being considered as food for the poor. However, after reluctantly trying it they were convinced that it was worth cooking with.
In Cyprus we used to eatu00c2u00a0bulgur pilafu00c2u00a0regularly and I have already written about the traditional way my mother used to cook it.She would always make it when she had leftover meat, lamb, pork or chicken but a meatless pilaf is equally delicious served with Greek yoghurt.
Bulgar wheat can be coarsely ground, which is the type we use in the pilaf or finely ground, which is the one we use to make koupes, withu00c2u00a0meatu00c2u00a0oru00c2u00a0vegan,u00c2u00a0 which are savory mezedes.
The pilaf is very easy to make.u00c2u00a0u00c2u00a0 Grated onion is sauteed in olive oil and vermicelli pasta is added.u00c2u00a0 Then the bulgar wheat and grated fresh tomatoes, salt pepper and pieces of lefover pieces of meat are cooked together.
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in volume 1 of my e-cookbook.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,