Bulgur was born in ancient Middle Eastern cuisines and, even if it could literally be translated as “boiled barley”, in reality it is often referred to as “broken wheat”. Bulgur has a very ancient history, as it seems that it was already prepared by Babylonians, Hittites and Jews more than 4000 years ago. In 1000 BC, Arabs, Israelis and Romans used to consume it dried and then cooked. The names used today to indicate this type of food differ little from each other, but in reality it was initially known by different names depending on the area: “cerealis” for the Romans, “dagan” for the Israelis and “arisah” in the rest of the Middle East.
What’s the difference between couscous and bulgur?
Wrongly, sometimes we tend to associate bulgur with couscous, but the differences among these two products are many: from the origins to the production process.
Unlike the more famous couscous, which comes from the slow processing of durum wheat semolina in water, bulgur is made of steamed and crushed durum wheat grains. The other difference with respect to couscous is that bulgur is always made of whole (sprouted) seeds that preserve the bran, unlike couscous, which does not contain any and uses non-sprouted wheat seeds.
There are different types of bulgur on the market (which are also known as bulghur and bulghul), such as spelt bulgur or kamut. It is also found in slimmer and larger sizes, which adapt differently according to the types of dishes prepared.
Its characteristics are similar to those of whole wheat: excellent fiber content, but also B vitamins, potassium and phosphorus. Thanks to the fiber amount within Bulgur, the latter comes with all the benefits for proper intestinal function and therefore it represents a concrete help to prevent various intestinal diseases, such as constipation.
Its excellent digestibility is one of its most appreciated properties. In fact, it contains a minimal non-digestible portion compared to other wheat derivatives, its most distinctive feature. Its richness in folate and other B vitamins make it also an ideal food for children and pregnant women. The caloric intake of bulgur is relatively modest: just under 350 kcal per 100g of product.
The different types of bulgur
There is no single type of bulgur. You have probably heard of raw bulgur, and how according to some it is “better” from a nutritional point of view.
In reality, when we talk about raw bulgur we are talking about a type of non-sprouted and selected bulgur. It is true that it preserves better – than the classic variety – the different nutritional characteristics until the moment of cooking. But it is equally true that it must also be cooked for about 15 minutes in a quantity of water 2.5/3 times its weight.
The fact is that, since the soaking phase necessary for precooked bulgur is not present, the dilution of some nutrients is less. But there are ultimately no substantial nutritional differences between one variety and another.
Like any form of wheat, the condiments can be varied: from the classic extra virgin olive oil with salt and pepper, to more complex preparations. Moreover, Bulgur can be eaten both hot and cold. Go to out our Recipe section to find inspiration.
Today, Bulgur is no longer found only in ethnic shops, but also in some large supermarkets. The simplest thing, however, is to order it with a simple click online. Check out our own version of Bulgur here.