Savoury, fluffy and a refreshing change from the old standard sides, cooking bulgur wheat is easier to achieve than you might think. Let’s start cooking bulgur! This ancient whole-grain is packed full of protein, fibre, and vitamins!
Bulgur may be a mystery grain to many in the west, but this ancient whole-grain is very common in the middle-east. It is the essential grain of the Middle Eastern Mediterranean. It is tasty, easy and fast to make. ⏤ You’ll wonder why it wasn’t on your table sooner.
What is Bulgur?
Bulgur is the whole grain of wheat that has been parboiled, dried, and cracked into different coarse grades. Thanks to the parboiling process, this ancient grain cooks fast and easy.
Types of Bulgur
There are four different coarse grades of bulgur, they range from very fine to very coarse. Which means each coarse grade offers opportunities for different uses:
- Fine # 1: this bulgur is most often found in tabouli, kibbeh, and a thickener for many Turkish recipes
- Medium # 2: use this grade for salads, side dishes, and pilafs
- Coarse # 3: extra chewy, reserved more for pilafs and stuffings.
- Coarse # 4: it’s hard to find this one, I know it’s out there somewhere. You would use it the same as #3
- Available in both white and dark colours too, the white bulgur has been husked, so a less earthy flavour.
- Some kinds also have toasted pasta mixed in! Those are my favourite ones.
Where do you find Bulgur?
You can find bulgur at most well-stocked grocery stores, usually in the ethnic sections or in the isle for rice and legumes. You can also find it online or on amazon.
You may not be able to find every type of bulgur course variety I mentioned in this post at your local grocery stores. A Middle Eastern grocer would be your best bet, for finding all the different variety options available.
Fine and coarse bulgur is accessible almost everywhere. So finding the most common type should be easy.
How do you store Bulgur?
You’re in for a treat, bulgur has a long shelf life! Store your bulgur the same way you store your rice. If you live in a hot country, I would recommend adding a few bay leaves in the container to keep bugs out. Any dry, airtight container will do the job.
Cooked bulgur lasts up to three days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer when properly stored.
How to Cook Bulgur wheat?
To make perfect bulgur, all you need is 20 minutes and some water—chicken stock or vegetable stock will also work. The key—as with cooking most grains—is to know the ratio.
- The bulgur ratio is 1 cup bulgur: 2 cups water.
Water ratios remain the same regardless of coarse size in most case scenarios. The cooking time does change for the fine bulgur coarse grade, you simply bring to a simmer, cover and kill the heat. Let sit for 10 minutes. Open the lid and fluff away.
Here’s how to make our easy bulgur recipe:
- Draw out the nutty flavours of the bulgur by toasting the grain in olive oil or ghee. (I prefer to use ghee for extra flavour and richness.)
- Bring a pot of water or stock to a boil.
- When you’ve got a soft rolling boil, cover and walk away! For 15 whole minutes. No peeking!
- Once finished, kill the heat. The bulgur should have soaked up all of that flavourful stock. The tiny bulgur kernels should be staring back at you, (yep, you read that correctly⏤the grain opens up and looks like an eye, so you’ll know it’s cooked when it can look back at you! 😉). Also you’re looking for an al dente texture to the grain, hence it should have a slight chewiness. They like to stick together as they cook, so use the fork to gently fluff the bulgur a bit.
- Cover for 10 minutes and allow to continue to cook in the residual heat.
- Fluff! This is the fun part. Grab your fork and dig in.
- Now, it’s ready to serve.
Is Bulgur Wheat healthy?
Yes, bulgur is a whole grain, so it’s full of fibre and nutrients. Compared to other grains like quinoa, bulgur is less rich in nutrients, contains fewer vitamins, minerals, and protein. That’s not to say you should underestimate the power of this mighty grain!
It should be noted, that bulgur is a wheat product and is Not Gluten-Free! So people with gluten allergies, intolerances, or celiac should avoid bulgur.
Frequently asked questions
Where can you buy bulgur wheat?
It can be found in Middle Eastern markets, natural-foods stores or even in large supermarkets, often located with other Middle Eastern ingredients. You can also buy it online.
What do you serve with bulgur wheat?
Use bulgur wheat just like rice! Anything you would use rice for you can use bulgur.
What’s the difference between bulgur and cracked wheat?
Bulgur is wheat berries that are parboiled, dried then broken into pieces. On the other hand, cracked wheat is raw wheat berries broken into pieces. Since cracked wheat isn’t cooked, the cooking time will be different.
Can I just soak the bulgur instead of cooking it?
Many recipes online say yes, you can. This method has never worked for me. When it’s the fine bulgur and I’m using it for tabouli, kibbeh, or some other salad type of food, I’ll soak. Otherwise, I’m going to call their bluff and tell you to cook the grain, it’ll take less time and you’ll have good results.
Do you have to rinse the bulgur wheat?
No. You don’t have to rinse the grain. I choose to rinse the grain, as a personal preference. You should always sort through the wheat to ensure no debris or stones are in the bulgur. I’ve found stones in the wheat before but it doesn’t happen often. This should be a rule of thumb for any grain-based product.