Safsouf: Lebanese Bulgur Pilaf

I love bulgur; it has great flavor and texture, is extremely easy to cook, and is very filling. Today’s recipe is for a Lebanese dish called Safsouf, that makes a delicious and healthy vegetarian pilaf to serve hot, or a great salad that can easily be packed for lunch.

The method of preparation varies from family to family, as well as regionally; the recipe below is how I prepare it. You can easily alter the spices to your tastes. Also, the quantities are very flexible.

Note: bulgur generally comes in three grades of coarseness. The medium or coarse bulgur works best for this recipe.


Saute crushed garlic, thinly-sliced onions, and cabbage in olive oil until soft. Add a handful of slightly-chopped walnuts or pecans, plus a teaspoon of tomato paste (optional). Add chopped parsley. Add equal amounts of allspice, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon to taste.

Add coarse bulgur, stir until well-incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in enough water or stock to just cover the bulgur. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook until bulgur is tender.

Serve hot or cold with yogurt and plenty of fresh lemon.

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3 responses to “Safsouf: Lebanese Bulgur Pilaf”

  1. sanday says :

    thank you so much for sharing your foods. however i have found this recipe much too vague as there are no specified amounts. same with the eggplant dip we are not told the temperature for roasting. etc.

    if you would be so kind as to give more details in all your recipes because they are not familiar to everyone and too much or too little of a certain ingredient can make or break the taste of a recipe by overpowering it for example.

    also it would be helpful for us if you would add more ideas on what goes good with the dish. like the eggplant dip what tastes best to dip into it?

    thanks again & lookimg forward to more ideas from you.

  2. Zurzoor says :

    Thanks for your comment! I have recently switched to keeping my recipes short, and without always specifying quantities or measurements. I’ve done this for two reasons: first, the feedback I have received so far from readers indicates that many people are already familiar with the basic techniques involved in most of my recipes, and would prefer less-detailed posts to avoid repetition. However, when I think there’s a technique that is not as popular or well-known, or a particular step/quantity/measurement that is especially important, I will note it and include more specific instructions.

    Second, this succinct way of posting recipes reflects what I’ve described in a previous post as a lack of specific instructions in general in Arab cooking styles (post on 1/31/2010). Because of this, dishes vary greatly from one household to the next, and the individual cook is given plenty of room to experiment and adjust the ingredients to their own family’s tastes! Some people like less cinnamon, others prefer more; I might add more cabbage to my pilaf because I love vegetables, but you might disagree. The important thing is that if you have the basic idea of how a recipe works, and a knowledge of the techniques involved, you can tailor the dish to your own preferences.

    With that said, I am always more than happy to correspond with you on the specifics of a certain recipe! If you’d like exact measurements or quantities, I can certainly email you or post them in the comments. Just let me know! Feedback from readers like you is always what helps me refine my posts, so please keep it coming!!

    For the eggplant dip, I don’t actually have a specific roasting temperature; I simply use a high setting. 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit would work perfectly here :) Just cut the eggplants in half, lay them in a baking dish/sheet and drizzle them with a drop of oil. Let them cook until the skins start to blacken and the insides are soft and tender. When you take them out of the oven, scoop the insides out and discard the skins. The traditional “dipper” is fresh pita bread, but if you like veggies, carrot sticks and green pepper slices taste particularly yummy. (I sometimes even just eat it up with a spoon, because it’s so delicious!) And as I mentioned in the post, this dip complements grilled meat dishes perfectly.

  3. Zurzoor says :

    Note: the method for roasting I posted above allows you to more easily judge when they’re done, because you can actually see and feel the softness of the insides. You can also roast them as I described in the “Mtabbal” post, which is to poke holes in the eggplant with a fork and then let them roast whole.

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