cracked wheat

The nutlike flavor of the cracked wheat product which the Arabs call burghul and the Turks can bulgar enhances many dishes prepared in the Middle East. In America it is now widely advertized as a "gourmet food". With the Arabs it has been an inexpensive and easily stored staple for many years. Its easy hand- ling qualities and its high nutritional value have made it an im- portant item on the housewife's food storage shelves.

In the Middle East villagers buy a sackful of wheat in the Fall. They wash the grain and pick it over well to remove small sticks and stones. Then they dry it carefully in the sun, often using the flat roofs of their houses for this purpose. Some of the wheat is preserved as whole grain to be boiled with sugar and raisins for a wintertime dessert. Some of it will go to the min and be ground into flour. At least half of it will be converted to burghul.

Townspeople buy burghul by the kilo in its processed state but villagers and some very conscientious housewives prefer to supervise the grinding of the burghul at home. The wheat must be softened before it is ground. To do this, it is placed in a large pan and covered with water to the depth of about fourfingers above the grain. It is boiled until slightly soft and just until it is about to crack open. Then it is drained and spread upon a clean cloth to dry outdoors.

The wheat may be taken to the mill or ground on a portable rotary grinder at home. The miller sifts the cracked wheat to sepa- rate the fine particles from the coarse ones. Garse burghul is cooked into stews or boiled up to make pilaf, or mixed into kishk. Finer burghul is used in kibbeh and tabbouleh. All of the burghul is thoroughly dried before it is stored away for the winter.

(From Food from the Arab World Marie Karam Khayat and Margaret Clark Keatinge, Khayat's, Beirut 1959)