Bulgur is parboiled broken pieces of whole wheat. Middle Eastern cooks have developed a unique way of processing their wheat, which makes this grain cook quickly and retain essential nutrients. Whole kernels of wheat are steamed or parboiled and then cracked into small pieces. This process softens the wheat without removing the fiber-rich bran or the nutrient-rich germ.
Bulgur has a pleasantly mild, nutty flavor. The mild flavor goes well with stir-fries and curries. It is the chief ingredient in Middle Eastern tabbouleh (tabouli) and kibbeh. It's higher nutritional value makes it a good substitute for rice or couscous.
Look for bulgur at health food stores, Middle Eastern groceries and some supermarkets. Check the package or bin; fine-grain and medium-grain bulgur cook quickly, while coarse-grain bulgur must be cooked for a long time. Cracked wheat is not a good substitute.