By Harold McGee
Bulgur or burghul is an ancient preparation of wheat—usually durum— that’s still popular in North Africa and the Middle East. It’s made by cooking whole grains in water, drying them so that the interior becomes glassy and hard, then moistening them to toughen the outer bran layer, and finally pounding or milling to remove the bran and germ and leave the endosperm in coarse chunks. It’s the wheat version of parboiled rice. The result is a nutritious form of wheat that keeps indefinitely and cooks relatively quickly. Coarse bulgur (to 3.5 mm across) is used much as rice or couscous is, boiled or steamed to go with a moist dish or made into a pilaf or a salad, while fine bulgur (0.5–2 mm) is made into various puddinglike sweets.