Healthy Bulgur Pilaf Recipe ( Assyrian Pirda )

Healthy Bulgur Pilaf Recipe  ( Assyrian Pirda )

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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

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).

bulgur pilaf

You may also enjoy the following recipes: Biryani, Makloubi Upside-Down Rice, and Chickpea Rice.

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bulgur pilaf

Don’t forget to check out my  Classic Middle Eastern Food Combinations.

5 from 1 vote
bulgur pilaf
Healthy Bulgur Pilaf Recipe ( Assyrian Pirda )
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Bulgur is a healthy and delicious alternative to rice. This is an easy, Assyrian recipe to prepare. 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Assyrian, Middle Eastern
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 201 kcal
  • 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
  1. Heat oil, then saute onion and vermicelli until the noodles are brown, and the onion is soft.
  2. Add the tomato paste to the same pan, and mix to combine.
  3. Rinse bulgur, and add to the a six quart Dutch oven.
  4. Stir in the tomato sauce mixture along with the salt and water. Cover and cook over low heat, for twenty minutes.
  5. Stir half way through the cooking process.
Nutrition Facts
Healthy Bulgur Pilaf Recipe ( Assyrian Pirda )
Amount Per Serving
Calories 201 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 404mg18%
Carbohydrates 27g9%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 3g3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

2 thoughts on “Healthy Bulgur Pilaf Recipe ( Assyrian Pirda )”

  • Shlama! Hello Hilda! I hope you are well. So, you are moving to Montana? That’s fantastic! I was reading back through your biography and I noticed that we missed each other by just a couple of years in Chicago. We moved to Nebraska in 1976 and I turned 11. We lived in Rogers Park and I went to school at Rogers Park. I’m trying to remember the name of the high school I would have gone to, and I can’t. I think it began with an m. I love that we have an Assyrian word now so I don’t have to use the Turkish word anymore! I need to check into my low FODMAP diet list to see if I can have it. I’m not sure that I can. At any rate, I love pilaf and your recipe looks great. Cheers!

  • Hi Anastaciast, I have to first ask about your name, is it Anastasia? Are the last 2 letters part of your last name? I never know how to address you. 😉 We will be moving to Montana in the next couple of years. We bought a house in Dec. of last year. We’re slowly furnishing it and preparing for the move. My husband retires in March, so we’ll be going back and forth for a while. Nebraska, huh? I can’t picture Assyrians living in Nebraska for some reason, LOL. I guess we’re everywhere! Was the high school you mentioned called Mather? That’s the only one I can remember that started with an “M.” Also, just when I thought I’d heard of every diet, you introduced me to a new one. I looked it up and I’m happy to report that bulgur is on the approved list. Have a wonderful night and thanks for stopping by!

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