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Grain Love : Bulgur

Bulgur will always be my one true grain love.  It has a nutty taste and slight crunchiness when cooked correctly, with individual grains looking like they might roll down the mound of bulgur you created in your bowl.  Sure, it doesn’t have the delicate aroma of certain rices, but that only makes it a great grain to work with when you’re spicing things up with a pilaf or looking for something to sprinkle into your soups and stews.  And what’s more, it’s a healthy whole grain filled with minerals!    (For an overview of bulgur’s health benefits and a few delicious looking recipes, check out this  “Recipes for Health” article in the New York Times)

In Turkish cuisine, there are so many different recipes that use bulgur.  In my family, we enjoy it in icli koftes, dumpling style balls with meat filling, bulgur salads like kisir and tabouleh and various improvised pilafs and bulgur balls filled with herbs and spices.  I’m planning on making a couple of these dishes to share with you in the future but today I’d like to present bulgur in its purest and, for me, best form:  Plain Bulgur pilaf with Yogurt.   No scratch that!  It hurts to call this dish “plain” in anyway.  Let’s call it Bulgur with Olive oil and Yogurt.  MUCH better.

I had this dish for the first time when I was sick around 5 or 6.  I remember having plenty of rice pilafs with yogurt for as long as I’ve eaten and bulgur had always been a staple in our home.  So it seems impossible to me that I had never had it before.  But maybe the appetite loss and misery you feel as a sick child, made the discovery of this simple, tasty dish a revelation.  I remember the first bite I took and the joy I felt at finding something that still tasted good to me.  I remember the glass bowl it was served in and the couch I was lying on.  For days afterwards, even after I started feeling better, I pretended I still hadn’t recovered my full appetite and asked for this dish to be prepared for me.  And now, if I haven’t had it for a while, it still carries that same sense of revelation.

ingredients

1 cup bulgur (i always go for medium coarseness but any kind will do)

2 ts extra virgin olive oil

1 1/4 cup water

a dash of salt

a dollop of plain yogurt per bowl

1- Heat the oil in a small pot until it covers the bottom of the pot.  Pour in the bulgur and stir until the grains are evenly coated.  And then stir for another 20 seconds.  (My grandmother used to say “until the grains start falling apart” but this may be hard to visualize for some and besides I’ve lowered the amount of oil, so this action is really subtle.)

2- Pour in the water and the salt.  Turn the heat to high. Give it one more stir, then wait until the water starts boiling.

3- Lower the heat and cover.  In 12 to 15 minutes, the bulgur will have soaked up all the water.  Turn the heat off and let it sit for 5 minutes or so with the lid still on.

4- Serve with a dollop of yogurt, strained or normal variety both work just fine.

Enjoy!

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