I want to tell you all about bulgur or cracked wheat. This is my favourite grain and I wonder if you are aware a) how tasty it is and b) how easy it is to cook. Many Turkish meals are all-in-ones and I love them for that simplicity. But sometimes we do cook meat and add perhaps a salad, and then need something starchy to add body to that meal. In the UK, it would most often be potatoes and I have no objection to that – I love potatoes in all their forms. Sometimes we make pasta or rice. Here, I am suggesting that you try bulgur. I use it a lot.
Go to the supermarket and you will see on the shelves two types of bulgur: köftelik/for koftes or salads, which is small-grained, or pilavlık/pilaf type, which is larger. The type that I go for is the second, the pilavlık. It is so much easier to make than rice as it never loses its shape. It is never in danger of becoming mushy. You can make it in advance and reheat with just a little extra water without risking anything. Additionally, it is most successful in salads. I think it is quite easily obtainable in the UK now but I do remember going to M&S with my father well within living memory and asking for bulgur. I remember my dad rolling his eyeballs as I asked, and then his mock relief when they were perplexed and admitted they didn’t have it. When my mother died, the task of organising the food after the funeral was delegated to me. I woke up at about 5 am thinking about the day ahead and worrying about the amount of food we had. I suddenly had this certainty that I would find a packet of bulgur in the pantry, an unopened, untried packet that I had brought over on one family holiday and if indeed it were there, I could make kısır, a delicious salad made with masses of parsley and lots of lemon juice, tomato, a bit of mint, spring onions, and cucumber which would extend the buffet table. Sure enough, I was right and that’s exactly what I did. To my mind, that bulgur saved the day.