semolina vs bulgur

Discussion in 'English Only' started by prgill, Feb 8, 2007.

  1. prgill Member

    Aix en Provence, France
    US living in France
    Does anyone have experience or know the difference between bulgur and semolina?

    I am working on a cookbook (lucky me... its the last thing I need) and translating from the french "semoule", a cracked wheat-like, pre-cooked grain used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes such as Couscous and Tabbouleh.

    Etymologically speaking, "semolina" makes sense and probably derives from the same IE root. On the other hand, the word itself, "Semolina" sounds like a brand of breakfast pablum which, of course, I want to avoid using.

    The Wikipedia entry for "bulgur" specifies that the grain is the basis for many Middle Eastern dishes, notably Tabbouleh. The word "bulgour" in French refers to something other than "semoule".

    Any ideas?
  2. Hello prgill,

    In the UK, semolina is not a brand name. It is simply ground Bulgar wheat from which we make milk puddings. Served with a dollop of jam in the middle - children love to mix the jam through the semolina pudding to make it change colour, or create swirly patterns. :)

  3. JeanDeSponde

    JeanDeSponde Senior Member

    France, Lyon area
    France, Français
    In French cuisine, "semoule" is a much finer grain than "Boulgour" - though it's all basically pure ground wheat.
    Couscous may be "fin", "moyen" or "gros" (fine, medium or coarse), "gros" being maybe 0.5 mm dia grains.
    While Boulgour can be 2-4 mm dia.
    I've never really measured :), but that's the idea.
  4. prgill Member

    Aix en Provence, France
    US living in France
    ...and I suspect, as Queen Victoria herself suggested, "semoule", "boulgour" and "semolina" are made from the same, pre-cooked Durham Hard wheat, simply sifted and packaged differently. Thank-you.
  5. Welcome to the forums, Jean. :)

  6. We call it "durum" wheat, prgill. :) (I've just checked on my packet in the cupboard.)

    Probably a BE difference.

  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Bulgur is wheat grains partly cooked, dried and cracked..
    Semolina is coarsely-ground durum wheat.
    Couscous is like tiny pasta, made from semolina.
    (From memory, but confirmed by various sources - Google for bulgur semolina couscous)
  8. nestor76 Senior Member

    turkish turkey
    here in Turkey bulgur is wheat which has been cooked and dried and sifted. whereas semolina (irmik in turkish) is a kind of flour which is made of hard wheat. Another difference is that bulgur is cooked and eaten like rice and irmik (semolina) is used more for sweets.
  9. prgill Member

    Aix en Provence, France
    US living in France
    All of this is very interesting... and confusing. Of course QV, Durum wheat would not be spelled like the city, regardless of origins... Thanks for the correction. Durum is a "hard" wheat but not necessarily "Durum Hard". Again my apologies. I checked another source, Britannica (c.2002) who state unequivocally that the "semoule" for "couscous" is actually "semolina", a "middling" product of (uncooked) Durum wheat and not, therefore the same as Bulgur just a different size.

    I suspect there is no "right" answer to my question, so long as the intended reader understands what is intended.

    Thank-you all.

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