Bulgur in yogurt sauce (Labaniyet al-burghul)

Grand opening festivities of the Beirut Souks, starting with an Elie Saab runway fashion show (Lebanese designer of the Hollywoood stars), an exhibit  featuring young and hip Lebanese designers and closing  tonight with  a Jean-Michel Jarre concert. As well as a  fireworks extravaganza (we are in Lebanon after all!).

The Beirut Souks and the entire renovation of downtown have been the topic of intense debate.  If one forgets that the past ever existed and looks only  at the present, downtown Beirut is absolutely beautiful.

The Souks, a contemporary interpretation of the traditional ones, are luxurious, highly secure, flanked by the Mediterranean on one side, renovated Ottoman-era buildings on the other and cupped by  a range of mountains. I was able to take my mother shopping there because the Souks  have been designed with handicap-access, a rarity here.

Far from upscale retail stores, sourced in rural Lebanon, this meal epitomizes simplicity.

Nutty, wholesome, extremely easy to prepare and refreshing, this  is labaniyet al-burghul (from laban meaning yogurt in Arabic), inspired by a recipe in Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon.


  • 1 1/2 cups of coarse bulgur, preferably whole-grain (not bleached)
  • 4 cloves of garlic mashed with a dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of fat-free (or whole) yogurt
  • a handful of pine nuts
  • olive oil or butter, as needed to fry the pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses (optional)
  • 1 chili pepper, diced and seeds mixed with the garlic for extra heat (optional)


  1. Rinse the bulgur and soak for thirty minutes in about 1 1/2 cups of boiling water;  taste to make sure the grains are soft. Drain of any excess water.
  2. Mash the garlic with a dash of salt in a mortar, adding some chili pepper seeds if you like a little heat. Mix the mashed garlic with the yogurt. Melt some butter in a small skillet and fry the pine nuts till caramel-colored.
  3. Mix the yogurt mixture with the bulgur, adding some pomegranate molasses if you wish, and sprinkle the fried pine nuts on top. Add some diced peppers to the bulgur if you like as well.

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  1. Posted September 18, 2010 at 11:34 am | Permalink




  2. Posted September 18, 2010 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    This looks like really healthy comfort food. I just love the sour taste of labne. I bookmarked this page. I must have this for dinner one night this week.

  3. Posted September 18, 2010 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    salut joumana
    ton boulgur est une invitation au voyage merci !!Pierre

  4. Posted September 18, 2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Would love the opportunity to go check out this new souk! Now this recipe looks amazing but when I first saw the tittle I expected something sweet, not savory lol. I love bulgur and different grains but always forget to use them. Nice inspiration.

  5. Posted September 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Sounds really exciting in Beirut these days! By the way, are you ever coming back to the US, that is the longest vacation I’ve ever heard off ;)

  6. Posted September 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Oh I love Labaniyeh, simple and wholesome!

  7. Posted September 18, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    It is wonderfull how many cretan foods looks like yours foods!

  8. Emil
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana just did a 7 hour stint in Beirut Souks (cant feel my feet but i think they are still there) off to bed now will try the burghul tomorrow cheers…

  9. Posted September 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    It is wonderful that the new souks are handicap accessible. It’s something close to my heart, and here in Egypt, there is painfully little that can be safely accessed with a wheel chair. Do you ever use low-fat yoghurt or a mixture of the two. I try to like the non-fat stuff but just can’t seem to.

  10. Joumana
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    2Foodjihadist: to be honest, I use full fat yogurt most of the time; I am just trying to change the habit, but I think as soon as this pot is gone I will go back to the full fat, it is just way too much better!

  11. Posted September 18, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    It looks lovely, I love ‘labneh’ and this looks great – I would use almonds instead as I’m not a pinenut fan. But what would you eat it with? Is it a side or a main?

  12. SYLVIA
    Posted September 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    This is a cool dinner that tastes like summer, and screams freshness, it is a true texture of explosion, you can prepare this dish without slaving away for hours, or worrying over too many steps, I like how the yogurt adds creaminess and richness, and the pine nuts that extra crunch. Joumana dear, ladle this lovely meal into my bowl please, so that it will transport my taste buds to faraway Beirut.

  13. Posted September 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like such a grand event…I am pleased that you were able to take your Mother along shopping. I have been looking for the pomegranate molasses, but have been unable to find it (maybe I could infuse? :) This dish seems simple but amazingly flavorful :)

  14. Posted September 18, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Joumana, this is another one that I will be trying very soon!

  15. Joumana
    Posted September 19, 2010 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    @Kitchen Butterfly: This can be a main dish or a side dish; I had it for lunch so I was happy to eat it and nothing else.

  16. Posted September 19, 2010 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    looks delicious and healthy

  17. Posted September 19, 2010 at 1:50 am | Permalink

    You must have a lot of fun there. This recipe has all my favorite ingredients.

  18. Posted September 19, 2010 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Ooh the pomegranate molasses sounds amazing! This sure does look wholesome and satisfying. I’d love to taste it!

  19. Posted September 19, 2010 at 3:50 am | Permalink

    I love this dish!! Healthy and tasty!

  20. Posted September 19, 2010 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    This is so fascinating…but as are all your dishes. It almost seems like a breakfast dish to me. I can’t imagine this as a wholly savory dish though…There seems to be such an intricate play of flavors. I love it!

  21. Posted September 19, 2010 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Looks very special and delicious!

  22. Posted September 19, 2010 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Is that a photo from your apartment window? I thought you had a garden? Doesn’t the pomegranite molasses make all the difference. It sounds YUMMY to me. Garlic. YUM!

  23. Posted September 19, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    The bulgur looks amazing! But taht fashion show sounds even more amazing… awesome!

  24. Posted September 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful use for bulgur! It looks very creamy and satisfying. Love the bulgur’s nutty flavor too!

  25. Posted September 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    the day at the Souks with the fashion show et al sounds very interesting!

  26. Posted September 19, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Whoa, looks just delicious, I have some bulgar in my kitchen that I now know just what to make.

  27. Posted September 20, 2010 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    It’s delicious and wonderful!

    Cheers, Najwa.

  28. Posted September 20, 2010 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Wow, looks so healthy and delicious.

  29. Posted September 20, 2010 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Fantastic. I have been wanting to do some fresh olives as they grow here in Florida. Thx. I also really like the yogurt recipe but I want to find some pom molassas; that sounds divine.
    Great job!

  30. Posted September 20, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    wow i cant thank you enough for showcasing so many delectable arabic vegetarian fare :) :)

  31. Posted September 20, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    What an easy way to enjoy bulgur wheat – I really like the combination of flavors.

  32. Posted September 20, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Loved reading about the opening festivities, Joumana. What fun!
    I must confess I don’t eat a lot of bulgur, but I love the looks of this. I bet the pomegrante molasses gave it such an unusual touch. Your photo is fabulous. Who could resist?

  33. Posted September 20, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Joumana, hi! Thanks for your comment – we’ve just had the most amazing summer – we were away for nearly 2 months ^_^ Did you know Beth at DIrty Kitchen Secrets is having a monthly mingle with Lebanese recipes? I might have to get some advice from you, I have no idea where to start!

  34. Posted September 20, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful dish. I am always fascinated by savory yogurt dishes as I just don’t think of doing it!! And can just taste it with a dash of pomegranate molasses. Delicious!

  35. Posted September 20, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    The renovated souks must be fun to explore. And, this dish sounds fantastic with the pomegranate molasses!

  36. Posted September 23, 2010 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    now that’s a bowl of creamy goodness if ever i saw one!

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