Bulgur pilav is a hearty and healthy vegetarian bulgur dish, commonly known as bulgur with tomato. It’s so easy to make and absolutely delicious.
What is bulgur pilav?
It’s the Turkish name for a bulgur pilaf, a very commonly consumed dish with coarse bulgur cooked in a tomato sauce. It can be eaten as a main dish, with a scoop of yogurt on the side, or as a side dish. It’s often served as the accompaniment to a platter of mixed grills.
Ok, but what’s bulgur?
It’s a cracked cereal wheat, a whole grain that’s really versatile and easy to cook. The reason it’s easy to cook is because it’s parboiled before being packaged and sold.
It’s nutty and chewy, and has such great innate flavor. It’s also really healthy! It isn’t a refined grain and it’s minimally processed, a great source of iron and full of fiber.
Why should I make this tomato bulgar pilaf?
It’s full of flavor. It’s truly delicious! The bulgur itself has an almost a smoky flavor that’s enhanced by the tomato paste and diced tomatoes. It barely needs any seasoning to taste fabulous.
An incredibly easy meal to make, making this recipe was my first time making a bulgur pilaf and it came out perfectly from the first try. I’m sure that’ll happen when you try this to!
Bulgur pilaf is extremely healthy, with barely any fat, lots of fiber and whole grains, and a great way to have a meatless meal.
Ingredients you need for this:
Olive oil: to saute the vegetables in
Onions and garlic cloves: Finely diced so they blend in nicely with the burgul.
Green bell pepper
Tomato Paste: I use quite a bit to get a really deep tomato flavor.
Diced tomato cans: I find this much easier than dicing tomatoes, just make sure you drain the cans before adding so as not to mess with the liquid proportions.
Bulgur: I used coarse bulgur.
Water and vegetable stock cubes: You can dissolve the vegetable stock in the warm water, or add them separately to the pot. You can also use chicken stock if you prefer!
Butter: This is completely optional, but I like the richness it gives by coating the bulgur as it cooks. If you’d rather omit this, and keep the recipe vegan, that’s totally fine!
Salt, pepper, cumin powder and all spice or seven spices: Just a hint of each for a little seasoning, this dish doesn’t need much help.
How to make this pilaf:
- Start off by heating the olive oil and adding the onion. Cook for a few minutes until softened then add the garlic and green pepper.
- Add the tomato paste and saute briefly, then add the drained diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the rinsed bulgur, the butter and all the spices.
- Let the whole mixture come to a simmer and simmer uncovered for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Cover, reduce the heat slightly and cook for a further 10 minutes.
What to serve bulgar pilav with:
I enjoy this with a big scoop of plain yogurt as a great light lunch. You can also serve with a green salad.
Alternately, and more traditionally, this is served a a side dish to chicken, beef or lamb grills. This would be amazing with these Arabic Grills, with Kafta, or as a healthy way to enjoy this Chicken Shawarma without bread.
Storing leftover bulgur pilav:
Leftover bulgur can be stored tightly covered in the fridge for 4-5 days, and reheated in the microwave, on low heat on a stovetop, or enjoyed cold!
Where can I find bulgur from?
Pretty much any supermarket would carry this, but if you can’t find it in your local supermarket you can order it online or go to a Middle Eastern shop.
What type of bulgur do I use?
I use, and recommend coarse bulgur so that the cooking times will match up to the times listed in this recipe. It’s really chewy and delicious and filling!
Tips and tricks for success:
-Try adding a can of drained chickpeas at the same time that you add the bulgur. A lot of recipes use chickpeas, but I left them out because my kids aren’t the biggest fans.
-Make sure you add the cumin! It tastes great and aids digestion of the fiber rich bulgur.
-Let the bulgur stand after cooking covered for 5-10 minutes before fluffing with a fork, so it really steams up and absorbs all the liquid.
If you liked this recipe, you might like:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 small onions, finely diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 4 tbsp tomato paste 60g
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, drained of their juice 15 oz or 400 g each
- 2 cups coarse bulgur, rinsed
- 3 cups water
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 1.5 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp allspice or seven spices
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and sauté for a few minutes until softened. Add the minced garlic and diced bell pepper and cook another minute, stirring.
- Add the tomato paste and saute for a minute, then add the diced tomatoes, and stir to combine. Add the bulgur and stir until well coated with tomatoes.
- Add the water and vegetable stock cube, then the butter and salt, pepper, cumin and seven spices.
- Stir until well combined, and bring to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 5-7 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for a further 10 minutes.