One of my favorite grains to eat is bulgur. I love the texture, the slight nutty taste, and how well it pairs with so many foods from fish to marka (tomato based Iraqi stews). Growing up, I shunned bulgur and always chose rice instead. Nowadays, I would pick bulgur over rice any day.
Bulgur is a Middle Eastern staple, served in so many delicious ways. We use it in salads, we serve it with caramelized onions and mushrooms, we mix it with meat to make ah’rook (hamburger – like patties) and we plate it alongside nunta d’ka’ree (fish) or even just chicken. My mom remembers eating gurgur almost every day of the week as a kid in Baghdad. They ate it so much that it became a food my mom and her siblings would greet with groans. One particular day, my mom and her siblings just couldn’t stomach the idea of eating gurgur yet again, so my grandma told them to visit their aunt next door to see what she had for dinner. She had gurgur. They then stopped by another aunt’s house. She had gurgur too. It was definitely a dinner staple!
1 cup bulgur
1 3/4 -2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup vermicelli noodles
salt to taste
a few tbsp of oil to coat the bottom of the pot
1/2 minced onion (optional)
In a medium-sized nonstick pot, heat the oil. If you’re using onions for an extra flavor boost, add the minced onions to the pot and sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Cook the onions until they are well-done, or have reached a rich brown color.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the vermicelli noodles. Cook the noodles until they obtain a nice golden-brown color. Keep a close eye on the noodles : it only takes them a few minutes to brown!
In a separate pot. bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a boil.
Add the bulgur to the pot, and stir, mixing the grain and noodles together. Allow to cook for a few minutes. Add the boiling or nearly boiling stock to the bulgur. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until all of the water has cooked away. It will probably take about 15 minutes.
Once the water has cooked away, reduce the heat to low and all the bulgur to sit for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and gently mix or fluff the grain. It’s ready to eat!
*Note: adding the vermicelli noodles is optional. If you choose not to use them, use the ration of 1 cup of bulgur to 1 1/2 cups of stock. If you do cook with the vermicelli noodles, be sure to add extra stock (1/4-1/2 cup) to compensate for the noodles.