One of the great invention of cooks in the Levant is Bulgar wheat. Bulgar is made by parboiling wheat, which is defined first as boiling the wheat, then drying it. One can find Bulgar wheat in most stores because it full of nutrient, has more fiber than rice and does not effect the blood sugar as much as white rice do which make it a good grain option for diabetic.
Bulgar is being produced on a mass scale nowadays but it used to be done by the ladies in small villages. Generally a village will own only one huge pot in which wheat is parboiled, and the village women will get together to prepare the bulgar, much the same as a quilting be is conducted here in America. The women get together usually in August because of the availability of the sun for drying the wheat. The pot moves from house to house, according to a mutually agreed upon schedule. At 4 am the women taking part will show up at the house of the woman designated for that day’s work, carrying the pot. The women from the designated household knows she must have coffee ready, as well as the wood for the fire outside where the pot will be placed. It is a pot large enough to hold about 100 pound of wheat. It is filled with water and allowed to cook. During the cooking phase of the project, everyone in the village can hear the gossiping and the giggling of the collective cooks. The men of course, don’t mind this noises because their wives doing this job instead of them.
Once cooked, the wheat is poured into a large basket to get rid of the water. The wheat is then carried to the roof the house-always flat- where it is spread on bed sheets for drying. They also erect a scare crow to keep the birds away from it. After one week of drying the bulgar is carried to the village grinding mill and cracked assording to the desire of the women bringing the wheat. Once cracked, it is taken to the roof once again for further drying.
If you are buying bulgar in a store, be careful not to confuse real bulgar with what is labeled as “cracked wheat” or “crackedk roasted wheat”. Bulgar gives recipes a nutty flavor, and cook much more quickly than cracked wheat, which does not have the same flavor.
Tomato Bulgar Pilaf
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 16-ounce can cooked garbanzo beans, drained
1 cup coarse bulgar
salt and pepper to taste
–Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.
-Add the onion and saute until translucent.
-Add the tomatoes , the juice from the can, the water, the salt and the water. Bring to a boil.
-Stir in the bulgar and the beans. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the water evaporates and the bulgar is soft.