Bulgur with tomatoes and red chili

May 3, 2010  •  Category:


Everybody in America had  at one time  a box of Rice-a-Roni in their cupboard; well, everybody in Lebanon  has a big bin of coarse bulgur and makes this at least once a week; especially if they live in a village or a rural area.

I added the red chili pepper; Lebanese cuisine is not based on heat, by definition. Mea Culpa.

Omit the pepper and make it with just the eternal couple: allspice and cinnamon. (won’t hurt my feelings!)

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups of coarse bulgur#4 (or at least #3)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon of allspice, a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 or more red chili peppers (optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon of hot pepper paste (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups of water to cook the bulgur in
  • olive oil, as needed


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pot; add the chopped onions; fry for a few minutes and cover the pot for a few minutes till the onions are translucent. In the meantime, soak the bulgur in a bowl with some fresh tap water to cover for about 10 minutes. Drain and press the extra water out.
  2. Add the bulgur to the pot and stir-fry with the onions; add the spices, including salt and pepper. Fry for a few minutes until the bulgur is translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, chili peppers,  water, pepper paste if using, stir and cover the pot.
  3. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes until the bulgur is cooked. Uncover the pot and let the extra water evaporate if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

From: Al Tabekh Al-Arabi (Leena Bassam Shbaro)


52 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. SYLVIA says:

    This brings me back to my grandmas table, nutty wholegrain that’s steamed and dried. Excellent dish, very tasty healthy side dish. In fact Bulgar has twice the fiber of brown rice. Thank you Joumana for this healthy update.

  2. A Canadian Foodie says:

    YUM! This is going on my class list. I have a lot of students who eat and love spicy food and we are actually in the middle of a mini-lentil unit – so it will work out perfectly. I love that you changed up a traditional recipe… though I have never had the traditional recipe, yet. So, I should try both. I think I will make the spicy version the option! … and most will take it.

  3. A Canadian Foodie says:

    I meant Bulgar… lentils we are doing in grade 7… Bulgar and similar grains in grade 9. mea culpa ME!

  4. Tangled Noodle says:

    This looks like a wonderful dish that’s easy and quick to make! I would definitely try both the hot and classic spice versions.

  5. susan from food blogga says:

    Yup, we sure did have Rice-a-Roni in our cupboard when I was a kid. Fortunately, now I have bulgur and quiona and wheatberries. Love your recipe and will have to try it!

  6. Katie @Cozydelicious says:

    Yum! I have a ton of bulgur and have been wondering what to do with it. Now I know! And you’re so funny… we did, of course, have rice-a-roni all the time when I was a kid. My mom was obsessed. But this looks so much better.

  7. sweetlife says:

    I like this dish, bulgar is so easy to make your own. I had to ask my mom what rice-a -roni was..sorry I have never had.


  8. The Gypsy Chef says:

    Both versions of this dish sound delicious. However, I’m partial to the spicy version.

  9. Sushma Mallya says:

    Healthy & delicious, and so easy too..

  10. Ivy says:

    This sounds delicious but prefer it without the heat. Love bulgur and make a similar Cypriot pilaf with vermicelli quite often.

  11. Priya says:

    Very beautiful dish, looks prefect for me..

  12. Cherine says:

    Excellent & healthy dish! I love it and I always make it. Next time I’ll try it with the red chili pepper 🙂

  13. Rosa says:

    Lovely! I just made a similar bulgur dish yesterday…



  14. peter says:

    I like heat in some dishes but nothing that will blow my head off either!

    Healhty bulghur…an ingredient us Greeks call “pligouri”, picnic time!

  15. Magdalena says:

    Hello again!
    It is nice. I like bulgur a lot, but I must confess that my first adventure was only after my arrival to France. I did not know bulgur before.
    When I was younger, “cereals” like bulgur, couscous, quinoa and so on, were not available in food stores in Poland.
    On the other hand, Poland is a country of other cereals like buckwheat or pearl barley – this is what usually Polish people have in their cupboards.
    Thanks for bulgur idea….!

  16. deana says:

    Spice is king for me… I have low blood pressure and actually crave hot peppers (Dr Lostpast thinks I would have them on ice cream!) and put them on everything. Love the bulgar. I only use it in tabbouleh so this is a great change for such a healthy grain.

  17. Nadji says:

    J’en mange souvent dans les restos turcs mais j’avoue que j’en fais très rarement.
    J’enregistre ta version.
    A bientôt.

  18. The Little Teochew says:

    The spicy version, please. It’s such a healthy and delicious looking dish!

  19. sophia says:

    YUM! I love bulgur, and always have some in my pantry, too. I don’t get why anyone needs minute rice or rice-a-roni when you’ve got fast-cooking bulgur, which is not just more nutritious, but so much more nutty and delicious, too!

  20. Jamie says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how just the right blend of spices and flavorings can turn the most basic, rustic ingredient into a fabulous dish! Beautiful!

  21. recettes gourmandes says:

    bon plat et avec la touche du piment j’adore et aussi belle présentation digne d’un chef, bravo

  22. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Great recipe. I have a lot of bulgar at home, and except for taboule, I really don’t know what to make with it, thanks for sharing this.
    *kisses* HH

  23. byba says:


    J’aime beaucoup les plats relevés et dont celui-ci, j’aimerai bien le découvrir.

    merci pour le partage et gros bisouss.


  24. The Nervous Cook says:

    But the pepper is so beautiful! I can’t imagine leaving it out.

  25. peachkins says:

    it looks like a great side dish…at first glance I thought it was spicy rice..

    blowing peachkisses
    The Peach Kitchen
    peach and things

  26. Marie says:

    I use to serve my husband Rice a Roni weekly when I first got married! Ha
    Now I’m going hunting for that hot red pepper paste in your photo, I do love my heat and bulgar!

  27. 12th Man says:

    Weird, but when I first got married, my wife could out-spice me out the door. Twelve years later, the tables have been turned. So now, I halve whatever the recipe calls for, then double it up on my plate or bowl after it’s dished up.

  28. Lentil Breakdown says:

    When I was in Turkey, I wanted to bring back some red pepper paste, but didn’t, and it’s so expensive here! Maybe I’m not going to the right place. Perhaps I need to go to a ethnic store rather than a gourmet shop. This dish is a great chance for me to crack open my allspice, which I’ve never used.

  29. Lentil Breakdown says:

    Whoops. I meant “an” ethnic store (cut and paste mishap).

  30. fimère says:

    je viens de découvrir cette recette, elle m’a l’air bien savoureuse
    j’en prends note
    merci et bonne soirée

  31. T.W. Barritt says:

    I really like bulgur much more than the first item you mention, but sometimes to get a hold of. Whenever I see it, I stock up. That’s quite a hot dish you’ve put together!

  32. Namitha says:

    Thanks for sharing another authentic dish from Lebanon..loved your comparison 🙂

  33. Sylva says:

    I made this dish today. I added a little bit of sweet basil and green onions. Healthy and yummy!!! Thanks for posting it.

  34. Erica says:

    love this side dish!!!Great for a dinner to serve with your favorite meat or poultry!!!Fantastic flavors.

  35. 5 Star Foodie says:

    I like the addition of the chili pepper, we always love the extra spice!

  36. citronetvanille says:

    C’est marrant je cherchais justement une idée un peu originale pour cuisiner le bulgur, et ta recette me plait bien, mis à part la cannelle dont je ne suis pas une grande fan, mais vraiment quelle recette originale. En fait, j’ai commencé à ne pas aimer la cannelle depuis que je vis aux US, parce qu’ils en mettent vraiment PARTOUT!

  37. Mimi says:

    I could have made it through college without Rice a Roni. I’ll take mine with the extra spice!

  38. PJ says:

    The last click speaks volumes about the dish!!Would love to try it out 🙂

  39. Krista says:

    I like bulgur so very much, but there’s only so many times you can make tabouli before you need something new!! This sounds splendid. 🙂

  40. ça sent beau... says:


    J’ai un paquet de boulghour dans le placard et me demandais ce que j’allais en faire !
    Voilà c’est tout trouvé ! Ce plat me tente vraiment ! Je vais peut-être mettre un peu moins de piment car les enfants ne sont pas très habitués aux saveurs épicés. Nous avons des palets européens un peu timides !!!
    Merci pour cette belle recette.

    A bientôt


  41. zoon says:

    I love Burghul ala banadoura !!!

    Marie Laure, moi je fais ce plat sans piment, car la recette d’origine n’en contient pas (comme il est indiqué dans la recette plus haut “optional”).

  42. Lebanese foodie says:

    Try with it natural yoghourt as a side dish

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