Wheat and a Bulgur Pilav recipe from Fethiye


Now is harvest time for wheat around Fethiye. Get your pans at the ready and rustle up one of Turkey’s favourite side dishes, Bulgur Pilav. What’s even better is that the recipe has been supplied by our Consultant Emre’s mother – so aptly named Fethiye!

Bulgur Pilav Recipe
The processing of Bulgur in Fethiye

Bulgur is a type of cracked wheat and a staple in Middle Eastern, Indian and Turkish cuisine. A whole grain thus high in nutritional value, it makes the ideal healthy addition to your diet.  From July onwards provinces in Turkey start harvesting their wheat crops.  Late August to early September sees Fethiye’s turn. Nearby areas like Karaculha and Yayla Bekciler are now collecting and processing their crops. Although most ‘yabanci’ (foreigners) tend to buy pulses and grains in packets from the local supermarkets, you can buy the new bulgur from stalls in the street markets, often directly from the producers. It’s an excellent way to support the local farmers and business – just look out for the stalls with big baskets of grains and opt for your bulgur of choice.

In Turkey you tend to find two types of Bulgur – ‘pilavlik’ and ‘koftelik’. Pilavlik, is most commonly used as a side dish and has a far larger grain. It is used in a very similar way to rice and normally accompanies meat and vegetable main dishes. This is the type Fethiye has used in the recipe featured below. Koftelik Bulgur has a far finer grain that could be likened to couscous. It is used in the making of Turkish soups like tahana and meze dishes such as cig kofte and icli kofte. Koftelik Bulgur is also the key ingredient in the tasty Turkish dish kisir, a salad similar to tabbouleh, made with diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cucumbers, spring onions, herbs and olive oil.

Health Benefits of Bulgur

Bulgur has been a staple in diets throughout Turkey, the Middle East and India for centuries. Given its health and nutritional benefits, it is surprising that it is only recently gaining popularity in the UK, much in the same manner as quinoa. Compare bulgur with the common favourite side of un-enriched white rice, and it is by far your best option. Bulgur has far more fibre and protein, higher levels of iron, manganese and calcium, and a lower glycemic index. One cup contains around 151 calories, 6g of protein and virtually no saturated fat.  According to a clinical study published in ‘The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition’ back in February 2008, it was found that those that consumed a regular helping of betaine, a metabolite found in whole grains like bulgur, had lower concentrations of homocysteine thus were at far less risk of chronic inflammation that can lead to osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The website livestrong.com also suggests that bulgur may help reduce the risk of developing gallstones due to the insoluble fibre in the whole wheat helping food move through your system at a faster pace.

Fethiye’s Turkish Bulgur Pilav Recipe

2 Water Glasses Pilavlik Bulgur (Rinsed)

5 Water Glasses Boiling Water

1 Medium Onion (Finely Diced)

2 Ripe Tomatoes (Grated)

2 Red Peppers (Finely Diced)

1 Dessert Spoon Salca (Pepper, Tomato or mix of both)

2 Dessert Spoons Oil plus a knob of Butter


Black Pepper

Pinch of Sugar (Optional)


Melt the butter with the oil in a covered frying pan then add the onion and fry until soft and translucent (a few minutes). Add the peppers and tomatoes, stir until they are warmed through, soft and the liquid has reduced. Add the bulgur and fry it with the oil, butter and veggies. Add a little salt, black pepper, sugar (to take the acidity from the tomatoes) and Salca Paste (Fethiye normally uses Pepper Salca as she prefers it, but tomato or a mix of both works well if you prefer). Stir until combined and then tip in the 5 cups of hot water. Stir and wait for the water to start bubbling and evaporating, then cover and turn the flame down to a low. Wait until the water has evaporated and the liquid absorbed (around 15 minutes). Remove from heat, pop a clean tea towel under the lid and leave for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the bulgur to continue to steam and become fluffy. Serve.

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