Learn all about Bulgur Wheat!! Bulgur / Bulghur / Burghul is processed wheat, invented thousands of years ago in the Middle East. Traditionally, Bulgur is made by boiling whole wheat kernels in water, followed by sun drying, and then stone ground to crack the kernels. The kernels are separated by size, and named numerically from bulgur#1 to bulgur#4 depending on how fine/coarse they get ground. Now, it is all processed by machines, of course, but the core process remains the same.
What are the different types of Bulgur?
Bulgur comes in 4 grades – Fine (#1), Medium (#2), Coarse (#3) and very Coarse (#4). The #1 is the smallest in size, whereas #4 is the large size grain.
Bulgur can also be classified based on the color of the bulgur (yellow or dark).
Why go through all the trouble of parboiling?
#1: To lengthen shelf life
This is pretty much the #1 reason why most food processing is done – to extend the life of the food. In this case, parboiling the wheat makes it resistant to mold contamination, attack by insects and can be stored for long periods of time.
#2: Reduce Cooking time
Because of the par-boiling, the cooking time is reduced dramatically, making this a healthy, super-easy-to-cook whole grain. In fact, Bulgur #1 needs no cooking at all, just soak it overnight in water or milk and it is ready to eat in the morning (yay!!).
For Bulgur #2, just add hot water and keep it closed for 10 minutes and you get delicious cooked grain in 10 minutes!! How awesome is that?
Bulgur #3 and #4 need a little more cooking time, but they all get done within a max of 20-25 minutes. For the invested time, you get nice, chewy grains that you can use as a rice substitute.
Nutrition: Why is it good for us?
One cup of cooked bulgur supplies 8 g of fiber, 6 g of protein, B vitamins, and more than 10% of the daily requirement of iron and magnesium – a.k.a – better than rice. Check out bulgur vs rice comparison here.
Because of the parboiling, it is high in resistant starch, thus it glycemic Index (impact on body’s blood sugar levels) is much lower than rice. The Glycemic Index of Bulgur is 46, much better than white rice – 76, and even brown rice -66.
But it is important to also note that since bulgur is made from wheat, it is not gluten-free. (Rice is gluten-free). People with gluten sensitivities and celiac issues should avoid bulgur.
Is Bulgur different from Cracked Wheat?
Lot of Indians use cracked wheat often as a rice substitute. Bulgur is par-boiled wheat. So, it is a lot more easier to cook than cracked wheat.
Cooked Bulgur is also not as sticky as cooked cracked wheat, since the drying process really makes the grain stand separate from each other.
Also cracked wheat (godhumai rava) is ground into small grains that have size between bulgur #1 and #2. If you want a bigger, chewier grain feel without having to deal with whole wheat grain, you could use bulgur #3 or #4 instead.
Recipes that you can make with Bulgur
You can make a breakfast porridge with Bulgur #1.
Or you can make the following Indian recipes by substituting bulgur for rice:
Like Tomato Rice (using Bulgur #2)
Or you can make sesame rice with Bulgur #3 (which was delicious)
Or just eat it with sambar and rasam, as a healthier white-rice alternative.
The possibilities are endless….
Have you used bulgur? What did you use it for? Mention in the comments below…I love to hear from you!!
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- Fine Bulgur – Bulgur #1
- Medium Coarse Bulgur – Bulgur #2
- Coarse Bulgur – Bulgur #3
- Extra Coarse Bulgur – Bulgur #4
I am not a certified nutritionist/health professional. If you have any health problems, please consult your physician/ nutritionist, before proceeding.