Bulgur is a cereal made from wheat, whose history dates back to the fifth millennium B.C. Its homeland is considered the Middle East, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean. Before the invention of baking, it remained the main wheat product consumed by humans.

Bulgur is mentioned in the Old Testament under the name ” arisa” (arisah). For thousands of years it has been part of the daily diet of people in many countries in the Near and Middle East, India and the Balkan Peninsula. Bulgur is also popular in Europe and America, especially since it has been used for dietary purposes.

What is bulgur

Bulgur is steamed, dried and ground wheat grains. Due to this manufacturing technology, it is a whole-grain cereal with all the bonuses that come with it.

  • The cereal germ is rich in proteins, saturated fats and vitamins.
  • The husk is an irreplaceable source of fiber and minerals.
  • The whole grain contains unique antioxidant compounds – phytates.

But unlike the usual crushed grains, the cooking time of bulgur is many times faster. After all, it has already been steamed in the manufacture. Small varieties can not be boiled at all, but just pour boiling water and leave to stand.

Bulgur has a nutty flavor and can be served as a side dish, like rice or couscous, and is often used in baked goods, pilaf, and soups. It goes well with many ingredients in both sweet and savory dishes.

Cereal stores well. Steaming the wheat makes it resistant to mold and insect infestation.

Useful properties of bulgur

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of dried bulgur contains:

  • proteins – 12.3 g;
  • fats – 1,33 g;
  • carbohydrates – 75.9 g;
  • fiber – 12.5 g.

Its caloric value is 342 kcal (1430 kJ). Bulgur is an invaluable source of manganese (65% of the daily human requirement), magnesium (40%), phosphorus (30%), copper and iron (15% each). It is also rich in B vitamins, especially niacin, B3, (25%), pyridoxine, B6, (17%), pantothenic acid, B5, (over 10%).

The low glycemic index – 46 – allows people with diabetes to eat bulgur. Scientists believe that regular consumption of whole grains helps to better control blood sugar levels.

But those prone to wheat allergies should use bulgur with caution – it contains gluten.

How bulgur was made in ancient times

Iowa State University Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Dr. Kurt Rosentrater described an ancient method of bulgur production in his book Kent’s Technology of Cereals.

It consisted in boiling whole wheat in open vessels until it became soft. The cooked wheat was spread in thin layers for drying in the sun. The outer layers of bran were removed by splashing the grains with water and rubbing by hand. Then the grains were milled with a stone or millstones.

In the Zelve Open Air Museum in Turkey such millstones have been preserved. In the center of the site, in the form of a small well, is a stone, “seten”, about 1.5 m in diameter and weighing about 500 kg. These millstones were powered by donkeys or horses.

Modern production and types of bulgur

Nowadays bulgur is usually made from durum wheat, but other types can also be used. Although the production process is fully automated, it is not much different from the ancient method.

Grain is wetting in 3 stages. The total humidity increases from 25% in the first stage to 45% in the third stage. This takes about 8 hours. Then the wheat is treated with steam at a pressure of 1.5-3 atmospheres for a minute and a half. The product is then dried in ovens at 66 degrees Celsius (151 degrees Fahrenheit) until it reaches 10% of initial weight.

After that the groats are ground and sifted mechanically. Depending on the size of the sifted grains, there are four types of bulgur. The finer the grain, the shorter the cooking time.

Shallow bulgur (#1)

This variety of bulgur is sifted through a sieve of the finest caliber. It is only slightly larger than Moroccan couscous. The grits can not be boiled, but simply steeped in boiling water and left for 1 hour. It is used to make salads, including the famous Lebanese tabbouleh.

Medium bulgur (#2)

The second largest kind of bulgur is about half a grain of wheat. It can be cooked for about 10 minutes. Great for cooking porridges, stuffing for dolma and stuffed cabbage rolls, as well as vegetarian burgers.

Large bulgur (#3)

A complete substitute for rice. The size of grits is ¾ of a grain of wheat. Used for cooking pilaf, stuffing for vegetables, such as zucchini and eggplant. It cooks for 15-20 minutes.

Very coarse bulgur (#4)

The largest variety of bulgur, not inferior to grains. It is used to add richness to soups and stews and to make kibbeh (Syrian meatballs). It takes a little longer to boil, about 25 minutes..

Buying, cooking and storing bulgur: everything you need to know to avoid mistakes

Like any cereal, bulgur has its own “preferences” when cooking. Which ones? Read the tips that will help you avoid most of the problems that arise from the moment you decide to buy and cook bulgur.

  1. When buying bulgur in the supermarket, pay attention to the packaging. It should be undamaged and tightly sealed. Be sure to check the date of manufacture and expiration date.
  2. The grits should not stick together. If you find lumps in the package, it is better to refuse to buy.
  3. Make sure you do not buy milled wheat. It is very similar to bulgur, but because it is not steamed, it takes much longer to cook.
  4. Small and medium sized bulgur is better steamed. With this method of cooking in the groats retains more useful substances and vitamins.
  5. Bulgur does not like washing. If you do decide to do so, be sure to then dry it in a frying pan over low heat with constant stirring.
  6. Before cooking, fry the bulgur in olive oil. The porridge will take on a golden color and nutty flavor.
  7. When cooking, use spices and spices. The grain will fully absorb their flavor, and the taste of the porridge will be richer. For the same reason, always add salt and sugar at the beginning of cooking.
  8. Boiling on high heat will cause the grains to stick together, and the porridge will turn out more viscous. It is best to cook bulgur on a low heat – to simmer. This is why thick-walled cookware, like a wok, is used.
  9. Allow the porridge to steam for 10 minutes after turning it off. The bulgur will become more crumbly.
  10. The ready porridge can be frozen. Its taste will not change at all, and shelf life will increase significantly.
  11. Store the cereal in an airtight container in a dark cool place. With this method of storage, the useful polyunsaturated fats that are contained in the germ of the grains will not be negatively affected by humidity, light and heat.
  12. If you open a container of bulgur and smell musty or oily, it is past its expiration date and should be discarded. Fresh bulgur has a sweet mild aroma or no smell at all.

How to cook bulgur

Since bulgur is steamed at the preparation stage, it is quite easy and quick to prepare. There are two basic methods of preparation: steaming and boiling. Small and medium sorts are better steamed, but larger varieties are better boiled.

If you’re making soup with coarse bulgur, simply add the grits to the pot 20-25 minutes before the end of cooking.

How to steep bulgur

Pour the bulgur in a prepared container and mix it with salt, spices and seasonings. Pour hot water in the ratio of 2 parts water to 1 grits. Stir, cover tightly and let stand for 1-1.5 hours.

After the specified time, drain off the excess liquid, if any is left. Then use a fork to whisk the bulgur until smooth.

You can leave the steamed bulgur for a longer time, for example, overnight. Then in the morning there is almost ready to eat breakfast. Add, for example, 60 g of dates and a small banana at the rate of 100 g of cereals and get a charge of energy for the whole day.

How to boil bulgur

It is not necessary to rinse bulgur before cooking. If you do decide to do it, be sure to dry the grits. The porridge will turn out more crumbly and fluffy.

Cook bulgur in a pot with a thick bottom, a saucepan or frying pan. The main thing is to have the right size: the volume of bulgur increases by 2,5-3 times when boiling. Ideal for cooking a wok, which preserves the nutritional value of the product.

To emphasize the subtle nutty flavor, you can fry the groats lightly in oil before cooking. Butter or extra virgin olive oil will do.

Then fill the bulgur with water in a 1:2 ratio. Salt and stir. After boiling, reduce heat to minimum. Cook until tender. If there is extra liquid left after cooking, just pour it out.

Leave the cooked porridge under the lid for another 7-10 minutes. If you want fluffy rather than sticky grains, place a clean folded towel between the pot and the lid. It will absorb any excess moisture. Then stir the porridge well with a fork.

How long to boil bulgur

As I wrote before, the cooking time depends on the type of bulgur.

  • A medium-sized one will take 10 minutes to cook.
  • Large will require cooking for 15-20 minutes.
  • Very large cooks for at least 25 minutes.

If you cook bulgur less than the specified time, the porridge will turn out al dente (Italian al dente – on the teeth) – hard when chewed.

Peculiarities of cooking in a multicooker

Cooking bulgur in the multicooker is similar to conventional cooking, but there are some peculiarities.

  1. Turn on the “Fry” mode. Set the cooking time to 7 minutes. Fry the bulgur in butter/olive oil.
  2. Add water in a 2:1 ratio. Be very careful not to get burnt by the splashed liquid.
  3. Add salt, spices and seasonings to taste. Stir it in. Further stirring the porridge is no longer needed.
  4. Activate the “Pilaf” or “Stew” mode for the time specified in the previous section.
  5. After the end of cooking, hold the bulgur in the multicooker with the lid closed in the mode “Warming” for another 20 minutes.

If you follow all the steps, you will get an excellent airy side dish.

How to cook bulgur with vegetables

Bulgur with vegetables is a great combination that is sure to diversify your diet. The vegetables can vary depending on the season and can be boiled, roasted or grilled.

Do not be afraid to experiment with spices: curry, coriander, mixed pepper, zira, dried garlic, turmeric. And then the family will appreciate your culinary talents.

Here’s just one way to cook bulgur with vegetables.

You will need:

  • Bulgur large variety – 210 g.
  • Boiling water – 500 ml.
  • Leeks – 100 gr.
  • Sweet bell pepper – 150 gr.
  • Mushrooms – 100 gr.
  • Carrots – 150 gr.
  • Tinned corn – 250 gr.
  • Olive oil – 50 ml.
  • Soy sauce – 30 ml.
  • Salt, black pepper.

Boil the water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the grits and salt and simmer for 20 minutes.

At this time you can prepare the vegetables. Cut the onions into rings, dice the peppers and carrots, and cut the mushrooms into strips.

Pour olive oil into a pan and fry the vegetables in this order: carrots – mushrooms – bell peppers – leeks. Fry each ingredient for 2 minutes.

When done frying, add corn, bulgur and soy sauce. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Bon appetit!

12+ salads with bulgur

Because of its mild flavor, the grits are great in salads, porridges, stuffings, stews, and many other dishes. There are even special wedding traditions associated with it. For example, in Turkey, every bride before the wedding should make a soup with bulgur and lentils – “Ezo chorbasi”. According to legend, this soup attracts happiness. And in Cyprus, bulgur has long since superseded rice in the wedding pilaf.

Bulgur salads are very common. It is what makes salads nutritious, turning them into dishes in their own right. For example, tabbouleh salad (from Arabic taabil – to season), known in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea for over 4,000 years, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Imagine a plate with a diameter of almost 5 meters, on which a salad weighing 4324 kg. Yes, yes, that’s exactly the amount of tabbouleh that 350 Israeli chefs cooked in 10 hours in 2009.

In this table, I have compiled both classic and unusual salad options, including tabbouleh. Usually small and medium-sized bulgur is used to make salads. But this is not a dogma: no one forbids you to use coarse, if you like it better.

TitleNumber of ingredients per 100 g of dry bulgurMethod of preparation
Salad with cucumbers, red peppers, chickpeas, lemon and dillPeppers – 1 pc.
Cucumbers – 2 pcs.
Dill – ½ bunch.
Onion – ½ piece. Canned chickpeas – 1 jar.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice – for dressing.
Soak the bulgur. Soak the onions in water and vinegar. Dice cucumber and peppers, chop herbs. Mix olive oil, salt and lemon juice in a bowl. You can add garlic and spices. Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Mediterranean salad with chickpeasRaisins – 1 cup.
Onion – ½ piece.
Parsley, coriander – ½ bunch each.
The citron and juice of 1 lemon.
Canned chickpeas – 1 jar.
Pistachios – ½ cup.
Freshly ground black pepper, salt to taste.
Olive oil – for dressing.
Cut the onion into half rings. Chop the greens. Soak raisins, roast and chop pistachios. Grate zest and squeeze lemon juice. Mix all ingredients, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  
Salad with fresh herbs and lemonGreen onions – 2 pcs.
Parsley, coriander, mint – 1/3 bunch each.
Cherry tomatoes – 3 pcs.
Pecan nuts – 30 gr.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice for dressing.
Chop the greens. Lightly roast and chop the nuts into fairly large pieces. Cut the cherry tomatoes into four pieces. Mix bulgur, greens and tomatoes. Season with salt. Season with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle nuts on top.
Kisir (Turkish salad)Cucumber – 1 pc.
Sweet bell pepper – 1 pc.
Green onions – 2 pcs.
Onion – ½ pc.
Tomato paste – 2 tbsp.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil, cumin, lemon juice for dressing.
Mix the cooked bulgur with the tomato paste and let stand for 10 minutes. Add jalapenos, if desired. Cut the onions into half rings and pour boiling water over them for 2 minutes. Meanwhile, slice cucumber and bell pepper into julienne strips. Finely chop the green onion. Mix all the ingredients and dress the salad with olive oil, cumin and lemon juice.
TabuleParsley – 3 bunches.
Cucumber – 1 pc.
Tomato – 1 pc.
Green onion – 1 pc.
Garlic – 1 clove.
Mint – 1/3 of a bunch.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice for dressing.
Chop the parsley in a food processor. Dice and salt the cucumbers and tomatoes so that the salad is not too watery. Drain any excess water. Chop the green onions and mint leaves. Pass the garlic through the press. Mix all the ingredients and dress the salad with olive oil and lemon juice.
Winter tabbouleh with roasted zucchiniZucchini – 1 pc.
Shallots – 2 pcs.
Parsley – ½ bunch.
Dried currants – ¼ cup.
Pomegranate – 1 pc.
Almonds – ¼ cup.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil for the dressing.
Balsamic vinegar to soak currants.
Cut the zucchini in half, remove the seeds, cut into half rings and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 40 minutes. Pour the dried currants over the balsamic vinegar so that it covers all the berries. Meanwhile, chop the shallots and parsley. Cut the pomegranate in half and remove the seeds. Take the zucchini out of the oven and let them cool. Drain vinegar from currants, mix all ingredients (except zucchini) and dress with olive oil. Add zucchini and stir again gently.
Amazing salad with baked grapesRed seedless grapes – 250 g.
Canned chickpeas – 1 jar.
Cilantro, parsley, mint, dill and basil – ¼ bunch each.
Dijon mustard – 1 tbsp.
Curry powder – 2 tsp.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing.
Almonds or pumpkin seeds – ¼ cup.
Drizzle the grapes with olive oil, season with salt and bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 minutes. Roast the almonds (pumpkin seeds). Chop the greens. In a deep bowl, mix together the bulgur, roasted grapes, canned chickpeas and greens. Add Dijon mustard, salt and curry powder. Season with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with roasted nuts or seeds before serving.
Salad with fennel and applesVegetable fennel – 1 pc.
Apple – 1 pc.
Green onion – 2 pcs.
Frozen green peas – ½ cup.
Parsley, mint – ¼ bunch each.
Feta cheese – 100g.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil – 3 tbsp.
Dijon mustard – 1 tsp.
Wine vinegar – 1 tsp.  
Boil the medium bulgur for this salad together with the green peas in vegetable broth. Dice the fennel and fry in a pan until golden. Chop the parsley and mint in a blender. For the dressing, mix olive oil, Dijon mustard, wine vinegar, salt and herbs. Sprinkle the salad with the diced feta.
Mediterranean salad with halloumiSweet bell pepper – 1 pc.
Cucumber – 1 pc.
Cherry tomatoes – 5 pcs.
Red onion – ½ Piece.
Parsley, mint – ½ bunch each.
Halloumi cheese – 500 gr.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice for dressing.
Dice the peppers, cucumber and onion and the cherry tomatoes into quarters. Finely chop the parsley and mint. Mix the chopped ingredients with the bulgur and salt. Dress the salad with olive oil and lemon juice. Slice halloumi cheese into about 1 cm thick slices and fry both sides until golden. Place them on top of the salad just before serving.
Avocado saladAvocado – 1 pc.
Broccoli – 1 pc.
Lettuce – 8 leaves.
Green onions – 2 pcs.
Dill – ½ bunch.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice for the dressing.
Pre-cook the cabbage florets in salted water for 3-4 minutes. Dice the avocado. Chop the dill and green onion. Place lettuce leaves on a wide platter and top with all ingredients. Season with salt. Dress the salad with olive oil and lemon juice.
Salad with cherriesPitted cherries – 1 cup.
Celery – 1 stalk.
Ruccola – 1/3 bunch.
Pine nuts – ¼ cup.
Feta cheese – 70 g.
Honey – 1 teaspoon.
Dijon mustard – 1 tsp.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil and lemon juice for dressing.
Ground black pepper – to taste.
Cut the cherries into halves. Cut the celery stalk into half rings. Add the bulgur, arugula and pine nuts. In a small bowl with a lid, combine olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, salt and ground black pepper. Shake well and dress the salad. Sprinkle diced feta on top. If time allows, put the salad for 1 hour in the fridge. This will make it even tastier.
Salad with tuna, cilantro and limeCanned tuna – 1 can.
Cilantro – ½ bunch.
Garlic – 2 cloves.
Juice of 1 lime.
Mayonnaise for dressing.
Salt – to taste.
Drain the liquid from the canned fish and put the tuna chunks in a deep bowl. Finely chop the cilantro. Add the cooked bulgur. For the dressing, mix mayonnaise, minced garlic, lime juice and salt.
Salad with baked tomatoes and eggplantEggplant – 1 pc.
Tomatoes – 3 pcs.
Walnuts – 10 pcs.
Parsley – ¼ bunch.
Garlic – 2 cloves.
Cinnamon – a pinch.
Salt – to taste.
Olive oil for the dressing.
And for this salad, it is better to use cooked large bulgur. Cut the eggplant into cubes about 3 cm thick. Cut the tomatoes into 4 slices. Drizzle tomatoes and eggplant with olive oil and bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit). This will take 30-40 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the parsley and roast and chop the nuts. For the dressing, squeeze the garlic, add the olive oil and a pinch of cinnamon. When the roasted vegetables have cooled, mix all the ingredients together and dress the salad.


Experts in the field of nutrition rightly consider bulgur to be one of the healthiest cereals. It is rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein. It is also full of nutrients.

High-fiber, low-fat diets (like bulgur) help reduce the risk of cancer and prevent coronary heart disease. This has been confirmed in studies by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

So try to give bulgur the attention it deserves in your diet. It is not only tasty and nourishing, but also healthy.


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