Bulgur pilav (burgul pilaf) is burgul in a fresh tomato base. A classic Lebanese (Middle Eastern) dish that is wholesome and hearty. This is my family’s recipe, which is vegan friendly and can be used as a rice alternative.
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What is Bulgur Pilav?
Bulgur pilav is a pilaf (either a wheat dish or rice dish, in this instance wheat) made from bulgur that has been simmered in a tomato base. It is widely made across the Middle East and Mediterranean.
In the Middle East it is known as burghul bi banadoora and in the Mediterranean it is known as bulgur pilav or bulgar pilaf.
Burghul bi banadoora in Arabic translates to bulgur in tomato in English.
What is Bulgur?
Burgul or burghul is the Arabic word for wheat berry. It is also known as bulgur (Turkish) and is a whole grain that has a nutty flavour. It is a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean household pantry staple.
The wheat berry is par-boiled, then dried and then ground into various sizes.
Bulgur is available in these sizes, fine, medium, coarse and extra coarse.
Extra coarse bulgur has been used within this recipe. Fine bulgur is used in tabouli (famous Lebanese parsley salad aka taboule salad) and a combination of fine and coarse burghul is used in the famous Lebanese kibbeh dishes such as potato kibbeh.
Outside of Arab speaking countries, such as Armenia, Turkey, Greece and Cyprus all have wonderful tasting dishes using bulgur.
My Armenian side of the family make Eech with fine bulgur and tomatoes, normally eaten with bread, for example.
Although sometimes mistakenly used interchangeably, bulgur is not the same as cracked wheat. Cracked wheat is made from wheat but isn’t parboiled.
How To Pronounce Burghul?
Burghul has two syllables and is pronounced as burr·ghul (in Arabic) the r is rolled and the gh are fused together. In English it is pronounced as buh·gl.
😋Why you’ll love this recipe
- It’s filling, nutritious and warming
- It’s made of fairly simple ingredients
- Stores well in a container in the refrigerator
- It’s a delicious vegan recipe
- The red colouring of this dish is sensational
🥘Ingredients You’ll Need
Notes on some of the ingredients, the full list of ingredients and their measurements can be found in the recipe card below.
I like to shop where possible for ingredients that are organic in nature, places like Thrive Market (affiliate link) in the US or Harris Farm in AUS are great for these types of products/produce.
Bulgur - extra coarse (affiliate links) or coarse is the best size for making this dish. Whilst fine bulgur can be used, the texture of this dish changes.
Tomatoes - I love to use fresh ripe tomatoes, which are peeled. If you prefer, you can use canned crushed tomatoes or tomato puree.
Capsicum/bell peppers - you can opt to select any colour you prefer. Green is a lovely contrast against the redness of this dish, but all colours taste amazing.
Onion & garlic - are best used in their fresh form. Only a small amount of garlic is needed and shouldn’t overtake the flavouring of this dish.
Chickpeas/garbanzo beans - select organic canned chickpeas/garbanzo (affiliate link). Save the chickpea brine, known as aquafaba, you will be able to make vegan meringues with this magical ingredient.
Cumin (affiliate link) - a little of this spice goes a long way. If you’d like a little more of this spice, add little amounts of it at a time as it can get bitter.
🔪How To Make Bulgur Pilav
How To Peel Tomatoes
Step 1 - Prepare ice bath, by placing ice into a bowl of water. Set aside.
Step 2 - Cut an ‘x’ on the bottom of each tomato
Step 3 - Blanch tomatoes by placing them into boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately place them into an ice bath. This will stop the tomatoes from cooking.
Step 4 - Remove skins, they should peel off easily. Chop up the tomatoes finely, until almost pureed.
Step 5 - Heat up cooking oil in a pot over medium - high heat, add onion & garlic and fry until golden.
Step 6 - Stir through tomato paste and then stir through capsicum (bell pepper), green chilies, tomatoes, spices and salt. Cover for 10 minutes and allow tomatoes to cook and release juices.
Step 7 - Add water and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering, add bulgur and chickpeas and stir through. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.
Step 8 - After 25 minutes, turn the heat off and allow the pot to stand covered for 10 minutes.
Step 9 - Garnish with parsley and red onion, serve warm.
Chickpeas/ garbanzo beans - if you don’t like chickpeas/garbanzo beans, these can be left out or replaced with light flavoured white beans such as butter bean (lima bean) or cannellini beans (affiliate links)
Capsicum (bell peppers) can also be omitted if you prefer.
Green chillies - these can also be left out or replaced with a chilli powder, be mindful of the paprika used, i.e., mild, hot or extra hot
Cooking pot - as burgul swells (doubles) as it cooks, use a pot that is big enough for the contents. I use my casserole dish (affiliate link), which is quite wide.
All other fresh produce - should be chopped up finely and be barely noticeable when cooked in the pilaf.
10 minute rest time - at the end of the cooking period, allowing the bulgur pilav to rest for 10 minutes in its covered pot, allows it to absorb further juices and fluff up whilst absorbing the steam within the pot.
Leftovers - burgul bi banadoora can easily be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days once it has cooled down to room temperature. Simply reheat as you would rice.
Most supermarkets nowadays tend to sell burgul wheat, however, not all sizes can be found. You can find various burgul wheat sizes in your local Middle Eastern or Mediterranean grocer. Otherwise, burgul wheat can be purchased online (affiliate link).
Yes. Allow bulgur pilav to cool down to room temperature, then store in a snap-lock container or bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.
🍴What to serve with?
Bulgur pilav can be enjoyed with a dollop of vegan plain yoghurt (or Greek yoghurt if you desire), avoid coconut yoghurt, the flavoring doesn’t match and can be overpowering.
Otherwise enjoy a side of macerated cabbage salad named Kupus Salata or Lebanese cucumber salad or fattoush salad.
Another must-try bulgur recipe is potato kibbeh.
Or for more vegan Lebanese recipes check out vegan shawarma my popular Lebanese lentil soup recipe.
Here are more burgul recipes or how to make pickles to enjoy with this recipe.
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Bulgur Pilav (Burgul bi Banadoora/tomato)
To peel tomatoes
- 1 kg Tomatoes peeled and diced
- 1 tray ice cubes
- 1 bowl Water
- 320 g Bulgur extra coarse
- 1 large Onion finely diced
- 1 clove Garlic crushed
- 1 med Capsicum Bell pepper (finely diced)
- 1 small Green chilli finely diced
- ⅛ teaspoon Paprika ground
- ⅛ teaspoon Cumin ground
- 1 can Chickpeas garbanzo beans, drained
- 1 tbs Tomato paste heaped
- ⅓ cup Olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbs Cooking oil e.g., vegetable oil to fry onion and garlic in
- 1¾ cup Water
- 1 tablespoon Salt to taste
- Prepare ice bath, by placing ice into a bowl of water1 tray ice cubes, 1 bowl Water
- Cut an ‘x’ on the bottom of each tomato. Blanch tomatoes by placing them into boiling water for 30 seconds and then immediately place them into an ice bath. Remove skins. Chop up finely until almost pureed.1 kg Tomatoes
Cooking Burgul Pilav
- Heat up cooking oil in a pot over med - high heat, add onion and garlic and fry until golden.1 large Onion, 1 clove Garlic, 2 tbs Cooking oil, ⅓ cup Olive oil
- Stir through tomato paste and then stir through capsicum (bell pepper), green chillies, tomatoes, spices and salt. Cover for 10 minutes and allow tomatoes to cook and release juices.1 med Capsicum, 1 small Green chilli, ⅛ teaspoon Paprika, ⅛ teaspoon Cumin, 1 tbs Tomato paste
- Add water and bring it to a simmer. Once simmering add bulgur and chickpeas and stir through. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, turn heat off and allow pot to stand covered for 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley and red onion, serve warm320 g Bulgur, 1 can Chickpeas, 1¾ cup Water, 1 tablespoon Salt
N.B., nutrition info is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. This will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.
I love how simple and flavourful this is!
Bulgur is new to me. I enjoy the earthy nutty flavor it has, I really enjoy your style of cooking. We’re so lucky to have international food at our keyboards (especially vegan ones)
Bulgur pilaf is so wholesome. The color of it is spectacular. yum