Turkish Restaurant Style Bulgur Pilav Recipe

Turkish Bulgur Pilav

I have always loved bulgur pilav in Turkish restaurants but never realised how easy it is to make at home, until recently. Thanks to the likes of TikTok, where I pretty much just follow food accounts; I’ve seen people make this so many times, I decided it was time for me to give it a go. I since make this regularly, almost every couple of weeks or so.

The only two ingredients you might struggle to find are the bulgur pilav and red pepper paste, if you don’t have any Middle Eastern stores near you. Luckily, I have substitutes for you. Red pepper paste can easily be swapped for tomato puree – nice and easy, which of course you can find anywhere.

Bulgur pilav is a mix of coarse bulgur wheat (available in large supermarkets) and broken vermicelli. You can either just buy the coarse bulgur and skip the vermicelli or make the mixture yourself.

Not only is this bulgur pilav so easy to make, it’s full of speed, virtually syn free and makes for a great side to so many different things!

Turkish Bulgur Pilav

Here I had it as a side to lots of roast veg and some soya yogurt as a light dinner. As there were leftovers, I added some cubed halloumi to my roast veg to bulk it out for a more filling lunch the following day. As an afterthought, I air fried the Aldi peri peri no chicken skewers, which I personally really like and they’re only 2 syns per skewer. All of my vegan friends who have tried these however aren’t so keen on the texture, so maybe it’s an acquired taste. Let me know what you think in the comments, if you’ve tried them!

Side note – the Aldi plant menu range is so so good and some of it is surprisingly low syn too. You just need to make sure you go armed with your barcode scanner to ensure you’re making the right choices, and stay away from the breaded stuff where possible.

Turkish Bulgur Pilav Recipe

Turkish Bulgur Pilav

Turkish Bulgur Pilav Recipe

A quick side dish to make a change from rice or pasta, packed with some speed too


  • 1 red or green pepper
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium tomatoes (optional)
  • 1 cloves of garlic
  • 1 stock cube
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste (around 1 syn)
  • 1 mug bulgar pilav (bulgar mixed with broken vermicelli)


  • Finely chop the onion, pepper, garlic cloves and tomatoes (optional). Using a food processor is ideal, if you can be bothered with the faff of washing it all
  • Fry off all the veg in a saucepan
  • Once softened, add the red pepper paste
  • Cook off for a couple of minutes
  • Add in you bulgar pilav and stir
  • Add 2 mugs of boiling water, with the stock cube (double the amount of water to bulgar)
  • Bring to the boil, and then simmer
  • Put the lid on the pan and cook until the water evaporates
  • Once cooked, it is ready to serve
Keyword bulgar pilav, turkish restaurant recipe

What Is Bulgur Wheat?

Bulgur wheat is an easy-to-cook, super versatile whole grain. It’s made from the cracked whole grains of different wheat species. Since bulgur is parboiled (partially boiled) and dried before it is packaged, it cooks much more quickly than other types of wheat.

It’s a common ingredient around the world, particularly in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines. One of the most popular bulgur dishes is tabbouleh, a finely chopped Middle Eastern salad. Personally, I’m not a fan. This is too parsley heavy for my liking.

Granted, it isn’t as effortless to cook as couscous (where you just pour boiling water over it and cover it). This requires a pan on the hob method, which is still simple enough. I use the 2 parts water to 1 parr bulgur.

What Does Bulgur Taste Like?

Bulgur tastes light and nutty. Like many other whole grains, it has a chewy texture when cooked.

It is sold in a variety of grinds, from fine to extra coarse. For this bulgar pilav, I use coarse ground bulgar.

Bulgur Wheat vs. Cracked Wheat

Cracked wheat and bulgur wheat are often confused with one another, but they are not the same. They do look a lot alike though. The difference between the two whole grains is the parboiling process. Bulgur has been parboiled, cracked wheat has not. This means cracked wheat takes a bit longer to prepare.

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