Bulgur pilaf (Shelbato)

August 11, 2013  •  Category:

This 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.


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. 


10 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Rosa says:

    Deliciously healthy! A great summer salad.



  2. domi says:

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

  3. Mark Wisecarver says:

    Yum! Have always loved anything with bulgur. 🙂

  4. Ivy says:

    Love it. Bookmarked to try it soon.

  5. Kajal says:

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

  6. Lisa the Gourmet Wog says:

    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. Oui, Chef says:

    Bulgur is so versatile, I just love it!

  8. Paula Mello says:

    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. Belinda @zomppa says:

    Big fan of bulgar and your version is simply lovely!

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