Bulgur pilaf (Shelbato)

bulgur pilaf with eggplantThis dish caught my eye in Chef Mattar’s latest book Maedat Marlene min Halab in which she reports on dishes she tasted while visiting Aleppo, Syria. How lucky for us. This one she titled traveling jew (Yehudi musafer), with the caption that it was an ancient dish. She adds ground meat to the pilaf, but it is considered optional. 

Funny thing, I made the exact same pilaf years ago ; I guess bulgur, onions, tomatoes, and eggplants are such a natural combo. I saw it in another cookbook under the name shelbato, without any meat, a very simple dish served at room temperature.

This is my version:

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 medium eggplant, cut in small chunks 

1 cup bulgur (coarse #3 or 4)

2 cups water or stock 

2 or 3 tomatoes, chopped small

salt, to taste

bulgur coarse

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, pour the oil and fry the onion till it turns color; add the eggplant chunks and fry as well till golden then transfer to a plate; pour the bulgur and fry for a couple of minutes until the grains are coated with oil. Add the water, salt and cover.

2.Check the bulgur about 12 minutes later and if it is soft, add the eggplant chunks and tomato bits to the pilaf. Turn down the heat and leave for another 10 minutes. Toss the pilaf and take away from the heat. Cool and serve with a bit of yogurt on the side.

yahudi musafer

NOTE: Add more water if the bulgur is still too tough to the bite after 12 minutes of cooking, say 1/2 cup. In Chef Mattar’s version, the pilaf contains diced bell peppers (red); the shelbato is only onion, tomato, eggplant and bulgur. 

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  1. Posted August 11, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    Deliciously healthy! A great summer salad.



  2. Posted August 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Bonsoir ma belle, voilà un gourmand pilaf…ici il fait très ( trop ) chaud

  3. Mark Wisecarver
    Posted August 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Yum! Have always loved anything with bulgur. :)

  4. Posted August 12, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Love it. Bookmarked to try it soon.

  5. Posted August 12, 2013 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Looks so easy, and yet its so healthy and has lovely flavours. Must try !

  6. Posted August 12, 2013 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    hmm not sure how your site got off my rss feed, I have a lot of catching up to do!! I do love bulgur, its such an underrated grain in the Western world, so nutritious and tasty, we have it as a rice alternative at least 3 times a week. This is a fabulous version :)

  7. Posted August 12, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Bulgur is so versatile, I just love it!

  8. Posted August 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    My grandfater used to do this for us but it was like a super special because bulgur was not easily find here in Brazil in that time. Now we can buy it almost everywhere :)
    He liked to serve with tahine and apricots. I really must do this recipe someday to remember those moments. I believe food have the power to create memories for the years to come and it’s wonderful to be able to share it with our loving ones… Thanks, Joumana, for the “happy thoughs” today!

  9. Joumana
    Posted August 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    @Paula: How interesting that bulgur is found all over; must be all these Lebanese immigrants who made sure of that! :)

  10. Posted August 13, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    Big fan of bulgar and your version is simply lovely!

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