Bulgur pilaf with freekeh, aubergine, tomatoes – Firikli Sebzeli Bulgur Pilavi
This dish is popular in southern Turkish cuisine, using the season’s bountiful tomatoes and aubergines / eggplant or patlican. The meaty aubergines and juicy tomatoes are a great match here with the wholegrains - a fantastic, all in one pot plant based dish. Locals in southern Turkey use the glorious, ripe tomatoes in this dish; I opted to use a good quality chopped can tomatoes as living abroad, it is not always easy to get ripe, sun kissed tomatoes. I did however use some sliced fresh tomatoes – as ripe as I could find- to decorate the top of this lovely dish, and it added extra freshness and flavour.
Recipe type: Vegetarian, Vegan
Cuisine: Turkish
Serves: 6
  • 350g/12oz coarse bulgur, rinsed and drained
  • 110g/4oz freekeh, rinsed and drained
  • 3 medium aubergines, quartered and sliced in 1cm chunks
  • 2 medium onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ tbsp. Turkish red pepper paste, biber salcasi
  • 15ml/1tbsp concentrated tomato paste
  • 400g/14oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes in juice
  • 60ml/ 2fl oz olive oil – for baking the aubergines –
  • 30ml/2tbsp olive oil – for cooking-
  • 900ml / 1.6 pints hot water
  • 5ml/1tsp Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped – to decorate
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F
  2. First prepare the eggplants (aubergines). Cut the aubergine in quarters and then slice into 1cm with pieces. Layer the aubergine pieces on a tray and sprinkle salt over them, leave them aside for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, dry the aubergines with kitchen or paper towel thoroughly.
  3. Spread the aubergine slices in a baking tray and pour in the 60ml/2floz olive oil over them. Using your hands, make sure that all aubergine slices have a nice coating of the olive oil. Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes in the preheated oven at 200C / 400F. Aubergines will start to get crispy around the edges, a nice color and soften up (you can alternatively sauté your aubergines on a pan with olive oil, though I find the baking easier and healthier).
  4. Heat the 2tbsp/30ml olive oil in a heavy, wide pan and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes, until soft and they begin to color. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, red pepper paste, can of chopped tomatoes, Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber and combine well.
  5. Toss the sautéed aubergines to the pan and gently combine.
  6. Now stir in the rinsed bulgur and freekeh to the pan and mix well. Pour in the hot water and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, combine well. Reduce the heat to low for simmering.
  7. Place the tomato slices over the top, cover and cook for 30 minutes, until the liquid is evaporated and the grains are cooked (add a little more hot water if needed). Check the seasoning and add more salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste. Turn the heat off. I like to rest the dish and settle the flavours for 10 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve with refreshing Shepherd’s Salad, Coban Salatasi and/or Cacik dip with cucumber and yoghurt aside.
Recipe by Ozlem's Turkish Table at https://ozlemsturkishtable.com/2020/09/bulgur-pilaf-with-freekeh-aubergine-tomatoes-firikli-sebzeli-bulgur-pilavi/