AlternativeGrains: Untapped Culinary Potential

Following on from our last issue and continuing with the world tour of food, today we focus on the north of the continent and beyond as we delve into alternative grains.

Bulgar, also known as bulgur, is a wholewheat grain that has been cracked and partially precooked.

It’s commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African cuisines, prized for its nutty flavour and chewy texture. I absolutely love it! I cannot overstate that fact. I feel I cook it more than I do rice, which is quite a lot.

On the other hand, couscous is made from semolina wheat and is a staple in North African cuisine, particularly Moroccan dishes. It has a light, fluffy texture and absorbs flavours beautifully, making it a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes. It’s a hit too!

Both bulgar and couscous serve as excellent bases for a wide array of dishes, from hearty salads and pilafs to flavourful stews and tagines.

Their neutral flavours make them perfect to play around with by adding various herbs, spices and ingredients, allowing you to experiment and create masterpieces in your kitchen.

Bulgar and Chicken Curry Recipe


  • 1 cup bulgar
  • 2 chicken thighs, diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat some oil over medium heat. Add the diced chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  2. In the same pan, add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook until softened and translucent.
  3. Add the curry powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric to the pan. Stir well to coat the onions and garlic with the spices.
  4. Pour in the diced tomatoes and coconut milk, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Return the cooked chicken to the pan or pot you are using and let the curry simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
  6. While the curry is simmering, prepare the bulgar according to package instructions. Fluff it with a fork and set aside.
  7. Serve the bulgar alongside the chicken curry, garnished with fresh cilantro and lemon wedges or a refreshing salad.

Vibrant Couscous Salad


  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped (optional, for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring water or vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let it sit for about five minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Fluff the couscous with a fork and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Add the diced red, yellow and green bell peppers to the couscous bowl.
  4. Add the diced cucumber, black beans, chopped red onion and sliced spring onions to the bowl.
  5. Gently toss all the ingredients together until well combined.
  6. Season the salad with salt, vinegar and pepper to taste.
  7. If desired, garnish with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for a burst of herbaceous flavour.
  8. Serve the couscous salad chilled or at room temperature. It’s great on its own, or as a side to a great steak or grilled chicken.

So, if you are only cooking macaroni, potatoes, rice and pap in your house, expand your horizons. There are more exciting alternatives out there! Explore and make your kitchen your theatre. No need to thank me.

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