Greek Cypriot Recipe for Pilafi Pourgouri – Crushed Wheat Pilaf

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Greek Cypriot Pilafi Pourgouri (crushed wheat pilaf) is a tasty vegetarian dish made with bulgur wheat flavoured with garlic, onions, and tomatoes—simple store cupboard staples.

It can be eaten hot or cold, making a delicious side dish with grilled meats or a tasty meal with a Greek salad.

If you love Cypriot cuisine, we’ve got more authentic Greek Cypriot Recipes for you to enjoy.

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While you may prefer to skip to the recipe card, we suggest reading the entire blog post to avoid missing valuable tips and substitution suggestions and to ensure you have the necessary ingredients, equipment, and understanding of the steps and timings.

Pilafi Pourgouri

This Greek Cypriot pilafi pourgouri 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, so Greek Cypriot food is something I grew up with and is my favourite cuisine.

What is Bulgur?

Bulgur, which you may see in supermarkets and grocery stores named bulgur wheat, is a cereal food made from the cracked parboiled groats of several different wheat species, most often from durum wheat.

Bulgar wheat should not be confused with cracked wheat, which is a crushed wheat grain that, unlike bulgur, has not been parboiled.

But to confuse you, we call this dish crushed wheat or cracked wheat at home!

Bulgur is used as a common ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine and has a light nutty flavour. You can read more info about bulgur wheat and its uses over on the Wiki page.

Greek Cypriot Crushed Wheat Pilaf

Ingredients & Equipment Used In This Recipe

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Pilafi Pourgouri Ingredients

  • Fresh ProduceWhite Onion, Garlic
  • PantryGreek Olive Oil, Sea Salt
  • Canned Diced/Chopped Tomatoes
  • Tomato Pastealso known as Tomato Purée.
  • Chicken Stock Cubes (Bouillon)You can use vegetable stock cubes if you want to keep the bulgur pilaf vegetarian.
  • Vermicelli Nests Vermicelli is a type of pasta, thinner than spaghetti and often sold in “nest” form, which I crush into the pan when making pilafi pourgouri. If you can’t find vermicelli, just break some regular speaking into small pieces.
  • Bulgur Wheat

The complete list of ingredients with measurements is on the recipe card at the end of this post.

Cypriot Pilafi Pourgouri

Equipment Needed For This Recipe

The Purple Pumpkin Blog uses both cups and weighted measurements in its recipes, making American cups and kitchen food scales valuable tools for trying all the recipes. We provide US customary, imperial, and metric measurements. Still, it’s important to note that while you can combine cup measurements with weighted measures, never mix US customary/imperial (pounds, ounces, pints, etc.) with metric (kilograms, grams, liters, etc.).

What Is Pilafi Pourgouri?

Pilafi is a really simple, rustic dish, and you will likely find many different bulgur wheat recipes around because we Greek Cypriots all have our own way of making it!

Some people use canned or fresh tomatoes in their pilafi, and some don’t. Some use garlic, and others don’t. Some use liquid stock, and others use just water.

The common ingredient is pourgouri—the Cypriot word for bulgur.

Cracked wheat is one of those dishes that I honestly make by intuition—I never weigh or measure anything.

But for the purposes of sharing the recipe, I measured all the ingredients, which you’ll find in the printable recipe card at the end of this post.

How Do I Make Pilafi Pourgouri?

Number of Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes | Additional Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes

Step 1 – Make The Tomato Sauce: I start making my pilaf by preparing the tomato sauce.

I open up a can of chopped diced tomatoes and pour them into a large measuring jug (cup) with a can of water from the cold tap. (Just fill up the empty can!)

I then add tomato paste and crumble in a couple of chicken stock cubes to the jug. (I use vegetable stock if I am serving vegetarians). The sauce gets a stir and is set to one side to use later.

Step 2 – Cook Aromatics: After finely chopping a white onion and some garlic (measure the garlic with your heart!), it goes into a heavy saucepan with some olive oil to soften for a couple of minutes.

Step 3 – Add Vermicelli & Bulgur: I crush up the vermicelli noodle nests and add them to the pan with the bulgur wheat. Using a wooden spoon, I stir everything together so they are covered with the softened garlic and onion.

Step 4 – Add Tomato Sauce: The tomato sauce I made earlier goes in, and everything is mixed together well.

Step 5 – Simmer Pilafi Pourgouri: Now it’s time to bring the pan to a boil before reducing it to low heat to simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

TIP! Stir the pilaf occasionally, as the bulgur has a habit of sticking to the bottom of the pan. (This isn’t bad; slightly charred crushed wheat tastes so good!)

Step 6 – Steam The Pilaf: After ten minutes, I take the pilaf off the heat, cover it with a tea towel (dishtowel), and leave it to steam until the liquid has been absorbed and the bulgar has softened but still has a bite to it.

Before serving, check for seasoning and add more salt if desired. I don’t use black pepper, but you can if you wish.

TIP! You may still find the pilaf sticking to the pan’s base, so give it a few stirs while steaming.

And that’s it—to me, it is so simple, I make it without thinking!

I hope your family loves this Cypriot dish as much as mine!

Pilafi Pourgouri Variation

Sometimes, I like to add a can of chickpeas to the mixture. For the measurements in this recipe, use a 15-oz/400g can, drained and rinsed, and add to the pan with the tomato sauce.


What Can I Eat with Pilafi Pourgouri?

Pilafi Pourgouri works great as both a side dish and a main meal. It can be eaten hot or cold.

Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 3 days. It’s not suitable for freezing.

Here are some more recipes that are a delicious accompaniment to Cypriot pilaf:

My favorite way to serve this dish is with a Cypriot Village Salad and a dip on the side.

This is typically Hummus or Tzatziki, but it could be as simple as a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Some toasted pita bread is always a tasty extra.

Pourgrouri would be a great dish to serve as part of a meze or as a main dish, along with other vegetarian options like Manitaria Krasata (mushrooms cooked in wine) or Cypriot Potato Salad.

When having crushed wheat as a side, I tend to serve it simply with some grilled pork chops or Chicken Souvlaki.

Afelia is a delicious Cypriot dish made with pork marinated in red wine and coriander seeds and goes well with cracked wheat.

To wash everything down, our Watermelon Lime Spritzer is a good pairing.

For dessert, try one of my childhood favorites—Paris on Ice—a gelatin dessert with a unique flavor.

A platter of fruit or even Fruit Salad Cupcakes would be a lovely end to this meal.


Pilafi Pourgouri – Crushed Wheat Pilaf

The Purple Pumpkin Blog
A simple, rustic dish, Pilafi Pourgouri is a Greek Cypriot bulgur crushed wheat pilaf. A great side dish with grilled meats, or as a meal in itself with a Greek salad.
4.44 from 39 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Recipes
Cuisine Greek Cypriot
Servings 4
Calories 212 kcal


  • 1 400g/14-oz 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-oz vermicelli noodles or spaghetti broken into small pieces
  • 200 g/7-oz bulgur wheat
  • Salt


  • 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.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a large heavy-based pan, 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 sauce and stir. Season with more salt if you need to.
  • Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer for 10 minutes with the pan lid 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 it with a clean tea towel. Replace the lid and leave it 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.
  • Serve hot or cold. Enjoy!


Serving: 1 | Calories: 212kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 311mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g

Nutritional information is always approximate and will depend on the quality of ingredients used and serving sizes. If you need exact calories and macros, please do your own calculations.

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FAQ About Pilafi Pourgouri

Here are some questions people often ask about making Pilafi Pourgouri

Click the question to read the answer. If you have one of your own, please comment on this post!

What is Pourgouri made of?

Pourgouri is made of bulgur wheat, which is whole-grain wheat that has been cleaned, partially hulled, toasted, and then cracked or crushed.

What is Pligouri?

“Pligouri” is what Greeks from Greece call this bulgur wheat dish, and “Pourgrouri” is what Greek Cypriots call it.

Is bulgur wheat healthy to eat?

Yes, bulgur wheat is considered healthy to eat. It’s a whole grain and is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Including bulgur in your diet can have various health benefits, including aiding digestion and promoting heart health.

Is bulgur wheat gluten-free?

No, bulgur wheat is not gluten-free as it is made from wheat, which contains gluten. Individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should avoid consuming bulgur.

Is bulgur wheat better than rice?

Whether bulgur is “better” than rice can depend on the context. Nutritionally, bulgur has more fiber and protein compared to white rice. It also has a lower glycemic index, making it a better choice for blood sugar control. However, personal preferences, culinary uses, and cultural factors might influence individual opinions.

How do you eat bulgur?

Bulgur can be eaten in a variety of ways. It’s commonly used in dishes like tabbouleh (a Middle Eastern salad) and kibbeh (a type of meatball). You can also cook it as a pilaf, add it to soups or stews, or use it as a base for salads and bowls.

Do you eat bulgur hot or cold?

Bulgur can be eaten both hot and cold. It’s versatile and can be used in hot dishes like pilafs, casseroles, or soups and in cold salads like tabbouleh.

Can you eat bulgur wheat cold the next day?

Yes, you can eat bulgur wheat cold the next day. If you’ve prepared it as a hot dish, you can store leftovers in the fridge and enjoy them cold or reheat them the following day.

Does bulgur swell when cooked?

Yes, bulgur does swell when cooked. Similar to other grains, it absorbs water or broth during the cooking process, which causes it to expand in size.

What is a heavy-based saucepan?

A heavy-based saucepan is a cooking pot designed with a thicker base. This feature allows the pan to distribute heat more evenly and prevents food from sticking or burning, especially when cooking over low to medium heat.

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