Uncooked bulgar wheat on the left next to cracked wheat
Bulgar wheat is a wheat grain that has already been boiled, dried and cracked so that it has a shorter cooking time than many other grains. Bulgar is also spelt bulgar and is best-known for being the main ingredient in the Middle-Eastern dish tabbouleh. Bulgar can be cooked or just soaked in boiling water to cook the grain.
Types of Bulgar
Bulgar comes in many different sizes of grain, often referred to in a system from Number one to Number four, varying from finest grind to most coarse grind. The finer the grind of the bulgar, the less cooking time it will take to prepare. The usual ratio for wheat to water is approximately one to two, however for coarser grinds you may need a bit more water.
To prepare bulgar wheat use approximately twice the amount of water than you are using bulgar. Keep in mind that the bulgar will expand to around twice its size. To cook the bulgar wheat, bring the water to a boil, then add the bulgar to the pan, stir, then cover. Continue to cook for approximately twenty minutes stirring occasionally. Drain the excess water after twenty minutes or when the bulgar has plumped up like a rice or a pasta.
To soak the bulgar instead, boil the same amount of water, but add the water to a bowl of bulgar. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it sit for between fifteen and thirty-five minutes. Drain the excess water from the bulgar when it seems to have expanded and then fluff with a fork.
Soaked bulgar should have a more moist texture and cooked bulgar should be a bit more dry and grainy. Remember that cooking times vary depending on the grind of the bulgar. You should know when it is ready to be eaten if you try a piece and find the texture al dente, similar to pasta or rice that is just cooked but not mushy.
You can use boiling chicken or vegetable broth in place of boiling water. Or you can microwave very finely ground bulgar. Just mix the same amount of bulgar and water in a microwave-safe bowl, stir, cover, then microwave for two minutes at a high setting. Then stir again, cover and let the bowl stand for seven minutes.