Stop the presses! Today I’m sharing a recipe for a grain that’s healthier than rice, and has a delicious nutty flavor! This grain is called “bulgur.” Although “bulgur” is not a commonly used word in the English language, it’s worth talking about. I guess not many know about it for a good reason since it is Turkish in origin. This bulgur pilaf recipe is an excellent alternative to rice.
Choosing the Right Sized Bulgur
Bulgur refers to a whole grain that is used widely in the Middle East. Bulgur is partially cooked, also known as parboiling. It is derived from durum wheat. You might notice that in some recipes, “Bulgur” is referred to as “burghur.” That is what bulgur is called in Arabic, while we call it “pirda” in Assyrian. For the purpose of this recipe, I’ll be referring to it as “bulgur pilaf.”Bulgur comes in different sizes to accommodate what you are preparing. Pay close attention to the recipe you are following, to make sure you purchase the correct size. The options available are #1 (very fine) through #4 (extra coarse). For this bulgur pilaf recipe, you will need #4. The finer grinds are used to make recipes like kibbi, kubba, and tabouli.
Bulgur Pilaf vs. Rice
So how does bulgur stack up to rice nutritionally? Pretty darn well! Comparing one cooked cup of each, bulgur has half the calories. There are 204 calories in a cup of rice vs. 112 calories in bulgur. There are 44 grams of carbs in one cup of rice, vs. 25 grams in bulgur. Both have the same amount of protein, 4 grams. So if you are watching your carbohydrate intake, you might consider cooking bulgur pilaf instead of ordinary rice. Traditionally, Pirda is eaten with a plain salad, especially when fasting from meat products. Sometimes it is served with a dollop of yogurt (the Assyrian version of sour cream).
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Bulgur is a healthy and delicious alternative to rice. This is an easy, Assyrian recipe to prepare.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1/4 cup vermicelli
- 3 oz. tomato paste
- 1-1/2 cups bulgur (coarse grind, #4)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup water
- Heat oil, then saute onion and vermicelli until the noodles are brown, and the onion is soft.
- Add the tomato paste to the same pan, and mix to combine.
- Rinse bulgur, and add to the a six quart Dutch oven.
- Stir in the tomato sauce mixture along with the salt and water. Cover and cook over low heat, for twenty minutes.
- Stir half way through the cooking process.