Thursday, August 13, 2020

Bulgur Wheat with Tomato, Eggplant (Aubergine), and Lemon Yoghurt

The beauty of this Middle Eastern vegetarian recipe is that all of its elements can be prepared in advance, kept refrigerated separately, and then just warmed through and assembled when you are ready to serve it. My friends, I assure you that the bulgur and tomato is delicious enough to eat on its own if you wish. I have a tub of it in the freezer which was leftover, and it will be perfect when I need an easy side dish to eat. However, it is meant to be served with the aubergine (eggplant) and yoghurt as a main dish or as part of a selection of dishes. If you are happy to eat this as a vegetarian dish on its own, it will feed four people, otherwise it will serve at least 8 as a side dish. So easy to make, and I love that this dish can be prepared totally in advance and that it so creatively and deliciously uses up the eggplants (aubergines) which I always seem to have in abundance.

I am always so happy when I have fresh mint growing in a large pot which is the perfect garnish for this meal. Middle Eastern dishes and mint are the perfect marriage. This one could also be served as a side with a curry. It is a variation of another recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's book, aptly named Simple.

This week I have been doing a lot of cooking with vegetables, which I seem to have accumulated. How do I end up with so many? I'm not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, I adore meat. However Winter is a wonderful time to cook with veggies, don't you think? I'll be sharing my Green Broccoli and Coconut soup with you shortly, it is so good and provides our bodies with a blast of nutrients, is great for the gut, and at the moment I have another batch of Green Cabbage sauerkraut on my kitchen bench waiting to be bottled for processing over the next few days. We are enjoying another cold snap here, well I call a minimum temperature of 7 deg. F. a cold snap, and with Spring just over the horizon, there won't be many more opportunities to make cool weather sauerkraut. This is my recipe for sauerkraut if you are interested in making a batch in the cooler climates.

If you feel challenged at the thought of cooking with bulgur please don't be. It can be used interchangeably with cooked rice, couscous or quinoa and is often used to make tabbouleh. It
doesn't require cooking though, only soaking, as it is a whole wheat grain that has been cracked and partially precooked for your convenience. It is a staple in the Mediterranean region and Middle Eastern countries, often used in grain salads, side dishes, soups, even green salads after it has been soaked. If you can't find it in your supermarket, try a health food shop or an Asian or Indian supermarket. It is nutty and delicious and makes a nice change to the usual grains we cook with.

Let's cook:


2 eggplants (aubergines) cut into 3 cm chunks (about 500 g)
105 ml. olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced (320 g)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp. ground baharat or allspice
400 g very ripe cherry tomatoes or 1 can of drained cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp. tomato paste
250 g bulgur wheat (preferably fine grind)
200 g Greek-style yoghurt
1 small, preserved lemon (25 g) skin and flesh chopped finely.
10 g mint leaves
salt and black pepper
Pomegranate Molasses (optional)


Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C fan forced.

Roasting the Eggplant

Firstly we need to roast the chopped eggplants. Place them into a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grinding of pepper. Mix well together with your washed hands, then spread them out onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast for 35-40 minutes turning over halfway through, until the eggplants are caramelised and soft. Remove from your oven and set aside.

Cooking the Bulgur, Onions and Tomato
Add the remaining oil to a large frypan with a lid and set to a medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the onion and fry for 8 minutes, stirring a few times. It will become soft and caramelised. Add the garlic and Baharat and fry for another minute, stirring until the garlic becomes aromatic.

Add the ripe cherry tomatoes, and mash them with a potato masher to break them up. You might need to warm up the tomatoes first so that they break up easily. If your tomatoes aren't ripe enough to be mashable, use a drained can of cherry tomatoes instead.

Stir in the tomato paste, 400 ml of water and 1 teaspoon of salt.

Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium low, cover and cook for 12 minutes.  Add the bulgur, stir so that it is completely coated in the tomato mixture and remove the pan from the heat. Set aside on your bench for 20 minutes, and the bulgur will absorb all of the liquid.

Lemon Yoghurt

In a medium bowl, mix together the yoghurt with the preserved lemon, half the mint and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Divide the bulgur between four plates. Plate up with the yoghurt and a serving of eggplant on top, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining mint. If you have any pomegranate molasses on hand, I know that a splash of that on top would be the finishing touch, but that is optional.

Serve with a Curry or a Tagine for a perfect dinner.

Thanks for dropping by,

Best wishes



  1. I've got a cooked aubergine in the fridge that needs using up so this recipe is good timing. Tonight is the night.

    1. Thanks Tandy, it's a great idea to have an eggplant cooked and ready to go in the frig as there are so many uses for them. Hope you enjoy this dish. Best wishes, Pauline

  2. Love its easy preparation and it looks really healthy and tasty too, Pauline.

    1. Thanks Angie, One of the easiest dishes around and yet very impressive with its presentation.

  3. Pauline that looks delicious. I never buy eggplant for some reason. I guess I am never sure of how to cook it. I really should get out of my comfort zone.

    1. Chel I never buy them either, I am either given them or I pick them from our bushes. I'm not sure how well they would grow in Toowoomba. They are great in curries if you like eating curries. Thanks and hope you are well.

  4. Bulgur and tomatoes are a perfect paring in my mind. I was recently gifted Yotam's Simple and have just read it cover to cover. I had marked his Bulgur with tomato, aubergine and lemon yogurt recipe to make, so your post has inspired me.
    Looking forward to seeing your green broccoli and coconut soup...

    1. Thanks Ron, yes it is a great book. The other one in there I enjoy is the roasted Aubergines with anchovies. All achievable for the home cook. Take care.

  5. Such a lovely presentation and the recipe looks amazing. I have two eggplants . This sill be perfect.. thanks for the recipe.

    1. Thanks Judee, this recipe is the perfect way to use your eggplants and healthy. I hope you really enjoy this one. Pauline

  6. hi pauline
    i love eggplant! not so much with tomatoes :) I must read one of of Yottam's books one of these days. sooooo many bloggers rave about them. Pomegranate molasses is always a winner. i love middle eastern flavours! take care S

    1. Thanks Sherry, I remember you saying that about tomatoes another time, I couldn't imagine a world without tomatoes in cooking, but that's just me. They could actually be left out of the burgul if necessary, there are always substitutes in savoury cooking aren't there? Not everyone loves eggplant, so there you go, can't please everyone. Hope you are well down there in the big smoke.


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