Bulgur, Tomato, and Aubergine Pilaf (Shulbato)

This makes a delicious lunch or a tasty side dish, and is just as good when made with rice instead of bulgur.

From the book

Falastin: A Cookbook by &
Falastin: A Cookbook
A love letter to Palestinian food and culture from the Ottolenghi co-authors..
With a mix of traditional and modern recipes for everything from one-pots to perfumed sweet treats.
With beautiful photography and stories from unheard Palestinian voices.


This makes either a simple lunch, served with some thick Greek yoghurt, or a side to all sorts of things. Grilled chicken, pan-fried tofu, salmon fillet – they all work well.

Getting ahead: The aubergine cubes can be roasted ahead of time, if you like, and warmed through with the bulgur before serving.

Playing around: Cubes of creamy avocado or tangy feta are a nice addition, dotted on top before serving. Also, if you’re looking for an alternative to the aubergine then courgettes can be used. Cut them into roughly 2cm dice and add them to the pan at the same time as the bulgur.

Serves 4 as a light meal or side


2 medium aubergines, cut into roughly 2cm dice (420g)
75ml olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced (180g)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (380g)
2 green chillies, finely chopped, seeds and all
400ml boiling water
350g coarse bulgur
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
salt and black pepper
To serve:
10g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
About ½ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes (or ¼ tsp regular chilli flakes)
Greek-style yoghurt (optional)


Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.

Place the aubergines in a large mixing bowl with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of salt. Mix well, then spread out on a parchment-lined baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes, or until soft and golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside.

While the aubergines are roasting, put the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into a large saucepan, for which you have a lid, and place on a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for about 8 minutes, or until the onions have softened and started to colour. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes, then add the tomato purée and sugar. Stir for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, chillies and water. Bring to the boil, then add the bulgur, spices, 1¼ teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Return to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 15 minutes, covered, then remove the pan from the heat. Keep the lid on and set aside for 10 minutes.

Add the aubergines to the pan and gently stir through. Spoon on to a serving platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the coriander and chilli flakes, and serve with a spoonful of yoghurt, if using.

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