Bhulghur wheat, or bulgur, is made either from a mixture of several different species of wheat, or solely from durum wheat, and forms a food similar to cereal. Its nutty flavor and versatility make this a great ingredient in several dishes in Middle Eastern cuisine. It's also commonly found in Indian and European dishes.
Most commonly, bulgur is found as the main ingredient in tabbouleh as well as kibbeh. Bulgur is also used in pilafs, breads and soups. There are three different types of bulgur wheat: fine, medium, and coarse. The highest quality bulgur has uniformly sized grains which allow for consistent cooking times. Each one must be chosen carefully depending upon which type of recipe it is being used in. Different types of bulgur also have different requirements for soaking before cooking.
Bulgur wheat is made from grains that have first been parboiled, or partially boiled, and then dried, usually by laying out in the sun. The grain is then ground and sorted according to size, making up the different types. Bulgur cooks very quickly, faster than rice, and is actually more nutritious. Once bulgur has been processed, it does not need to be cooked. Usually the best way to prepare it is to soak it in warm water before mixing with other ingredients.
A few years ago, buying bulgur wheat wasn’t as simple as going to your local supermarket. Rather, it most likely required a visit to a health food store or a Middle Eastern market. In the United States, the USDA recognizes bulgur as a whole grain and, with the rise in popularity of whole grains, bulgur is now much easier to find at large markets as well as a myriad of online stores.
Storing bulgur is much like storing any other rice or grain. It is best to keep bulgur in an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator. Bulgur contains some of its natural oils and will tend to go bad if placed in warm areas of the kitchen. In the refrigerator, bulgur will usually keep about six months. If frozen, it will keep longer.
Out of all the grains to cook with, bulgur is one that's well worth trying. It is healthy, containing much more fiber and protein than white rice. It's also lower on the glycemic index and has a higher level of vitamins and minerals. It's easy to cook with, can be used in a wide variety of ways and its nutty taste adds a unique and enjoyable flavor.