I first ate this Lamb and Bulgur Pilaf in Turkey a few years ago in the beautiful tiny village of Soğanlı in Cappadocia.
It was winter and there were no tourists around, so when we arrived in the deserted village square in the centre of a narrow valley we were immediately a target! Literally 20 people came running down the mountain to greet us shouting "Poupee!! Poupee!! We subsequently found out, that this town was famous for hand made dolls or 'Poupee' in French. After buying two dolls (being forced to buy) from one very smiley man, he insisted we come to his house and meet his family. Upon arrival we were welcomed into the house and quickly realised he might be the only smiley one in the family. We sat for a good 20 minutes smiling politely in complete silence.
My family is your family.
Suddenly the smiler, our new friend, pulled out a giant pan from under my seat and began spooning the contents into a bowl. He handed us each a bowl and gestured for us to eat - while everyone else looked on, unimpressed. It was utterly delicious! The dish was bulgur, a cracked raw wheat and it appeared to have been cooked in tomato sauce and featured huge chunks of lamb or goat, (there was no Google Translate back then). I'd eaten a similar dish in Istanbul so knew the word 'Bulgur' which impressed our friend no end.
It was a surprisingly flavourful dish and deceptively filling. I didn't need to fake how impressed I was. In fact I was a little over enthusiastic and he insisted on another bowl. The family appeared a little put out by two strangers coming into their home and eating their evening meal, so my enthusiasm for the second bowl was much more muted, to avoid a third bowl situation.
Recreating a bulgur pilaf
Since that trip, I've made this pilaf many many times and it's always a real winner. Cooking bulgur wheat uses the same liquid to starch ratio as rice. 1 portion bulgur : 2 portion water (or stock) - use this ratio and you can't go wrong. This dish has everything; heartiness, healthiness and tastiness! It's a welcome alternative to rice and extremely tasty. I like to serve mine with a simple yoghurt sauce - normally blended with herbs, but often just a simple Turkish yoghurt & garlic sauce
Serving suggestions and other Turkish Recipes
The version I ate was simple - my versions often switch up the silverbeet for green cabbage, French beans or spinach. I've created this dish with lamb, beef, pork and chicken and on a few occasions, meat free - all were delicious. This bulgur recipe is inspired by the dish I ate in Turkey, but with my own take on ingredients, but I think if I cooked this for that family in Soğanlı, even they might crack a smile.
If you liked this Turkish delight, then I know you'll also love these. Give another of my authentic Turkish recipes a try: