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How to Cook Burghal

by A.J. Andrews, studioD
In general, hot burghal pilaf goes with a hot main dish, and chilled burghal serves as a starter or mezze.

In general, hot burghal pilaf goes with a hot main dish, and chilled burghal serves as a starter or mezze.

Burghal, despite its exotic name, uses the same 2-to-1 absorption cooking method most other grains do. The name "burghal" is the Middle Eastern variation of "bulgur," and like bulgur wheat, it comes in three grinds: fine, medium and coarse. You usually find coarse- and medium-ground burghal in hot and cold dishes, such as taboulleh and pilaf, whereas its fine-ground form is commonly used as a binder and extender in ground-meat dishes like kibbeh, or lamb or beef croquettes. You can cook and dry whole wheat berries to grind your own burghal, or save some time and go with a prepared burghal.

Makig Burghal From Wheat Berries

Rinse the whole wheat berries in a fine-mesh sieve and add them to a pot. Add twice as much water to the pot as whole wheat berries by volume. For example, if you added 1 cup of wheat berries to the pot, pour in 2 cups of water.

Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the wheat berries are cooked through and tender, about one hour. Heat the oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spread the wheat berries out in an even layer on a cookie sheet and slide them into the oven. Cook the berries until dry, stirring occasionally, about one hour.

Take the berries from the oven and let them reach room temperature on the cookie sheet. Cover the cookie sheet and berries with a piece of plastic film.

Crush the berries with a wooden mallet or rolling pin until fine, medium or coarse. You now have burghal.

Store the burghal up to six months in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cooking Burghal

Bring twice as much water as burghal to a boil on the stove. For example, if cooking 1 cup of burghal, boil 2 cups of water.

Add the burghal to the pan along with a pinch of salt, and set the heat to the lowest setting.

Cover the saucepan of burghal with a folded kitchen or tea towel and place the saucepan's lid on it.

Steam finely ground burghal for 10 minutes, medium-ground burghal for 12 minutes, and coarsley ground burghal for 15 minutes.

Turn the heat off on the stove and uncover the saucepan. Fluff the burghal with a fork and add finishing ingredients, such as butter and fresh herbs, before serving.


  • You can find whole wheat berries in health food stores and most supermarkets.
  • Let the burghal cool to room temperature and chill it in the refrigerator, then add chopped parsley, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, olive oil and lemon juice to make tabboulleh.

About the Author

A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.

Photo Credits

  • Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images