Greek Cypriot Pilafi Pourgouri (crushed wheat pilaf) is a really tasty vegetarian dish made with bulgur wheat flavoured with garlic, onions, and tomatoes – simple store cupboard staples. It can be eaten hot or cold and makes a great side dish with grilled meats, or as a tasty meal in itself with a Greek salad.
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This Greek pilafi recipe is one that I have been making for years, and I love that I can share foods from my heritage with you. My dad is from Larnaca, Cyprus, and so Greek Cypriot food is not only something that I have grown up with, but is also my favourite cuisine.
What is Bulgur?
Bulgur, which you may see in supermarkets named bulgur wheat, is cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat. Not to be confused with cracked wheat, which is a crushed wheat grain that, unlike bulgur, has not been parboiled.
However, to confuse you, at home we call this dish cracked wheat!
Bulgur is used is a common ingredient in several Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, and has a light nutty flavour.
You can read more info about bulgur and its uses over on the Wiki page.
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How do I make Pilafi Pourgouri?
Pilafi is a really simple, rustic dish, and like many Greek dishes, you’ll find different variations. Some people use tomatoes in their pilafi, and some don’t. Some use garlic, and others don’t. What they do have in common is the pourgouri, which is the Cypriot word for bulgur.
Cracked wheat (as I call it) is one of those dishes that I honestly make by eye. I never weigh or measure anything. But for the purposes of sharing the recipe on my blog, I made it and measured all the ingredients which you’ll find in the printable recipe at the end of this post.
I start making my pilaf by preparing the tomato sauce. I open up a can of chopped diced tomatoes and pour them into a measuring jug, and then fill up the empty can with water and pour that into the jug too. I then add tomato paste and crumble in a couple of vegetable or chicken stock cubes – depending on if I am serving a vegetarian or not. The sauce gets a stir and is set to one side to use later.
I then sweat chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil in a saucepan for a few minutes until softened. The vermicelli noodles and bulgur wheat get added to the pan and stirred to cover with the sweated garlic and onion. Finally the tomato stock I made earlier goes in and everything is mixed well.
Now it’s time to bring the pan to the boil before reducing to a simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. I stir the pilaf from time to time, as the bulgur does have a habit of sticking to the bottom of the pan. (This isn’t a bad thing, slightly charred crushed wheat tastes so good!)
After ten minutes I take the pilaf off the heat and cover with a tea towel and leave to steam until the liquid has been absorbed and the bulgar has softened, but still has a bite to it.
And that is it – really easy right?
Make It A Meal!
Pilafi Pourgouri works great as both a side dish, and as a main meal too. It can be eaten hot or cold – store in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days.
Here are some more recipes that are a delicious accompaniment to Cypriot pilaf:
- Dip: I always serve Tzatziki or Hummus when I make cracked wheat.
- Salad: Of course it has to be a Cypriot Village Salad!
- Vegetable Side Dish: Manitaria Krasata are mushrooms cooked in wine, and are a nice side dish to have with pilaf.
- Meat Dish: When having crushed wheat as a side, I tend to serve it simply with some grilled pork chops. But Afelia which is a delicious Cypriot dish made with pork marinated in red wine and coriander seeds.
- Beverage: This Watermelon Lime Spritzer is not a Greek recipe, but I associate watermelon with holidays in Cyprus, so I think this is a great drink to sup with this meal!
- Dessert: I only have one Cypriot dessert on my blog at the moment – Paris on Ice; but you could also make these Fruit Salad Cupcakes which would be a lovely end to this meal.
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- 1 (400 g/14 ounce) can chopped/diced tomatoes
- Hot water
- 1 Tbsp tomato puree (tomato paste)
- 2 vegetable or chicken stock cubes (bouillon)
- Olive oil
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped (depends on their size, and how much you like garlic!)
- 30 g/1 ounce vermicelli noodles or spaghetti, broken into small pieces
- 200 g/7 ounces bulgur wheat
- Pour the tomatoes into a measuring jug or bowl. Fill the empty can with hot water - add that to the tomatoes. Add the tomato puree/paste and crumble in the stock cubes. Stir together and set to one side.
- In a large heavy based pan, heat a little olive oil then gently sweat the onions and garlic until soft and translucent - about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the vermicelli and the bulgur wheat to coat in the onion and garlic mixture.
- Pour in the tomato stock and stir. Season with more salt if you need to.
- Bring to the boil and lower to a simmer for 10 minutes with the lid of the pan on. Stir from time to time to prevent the bulgur from catching on the bottom of the pan
- Switch the heat off, remove the lid and cover with a clean tea towel. Replace the lid and leave to steam.
- It is ready when the liquid is absorbed and the wheat has softened but still has a little bite to it. If you need to, you can always add more water whilst cooking.
- Can be eaten hot or cold.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 148 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 360mg Carbohydrates: 19g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 5g Sugar: 4g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g
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