Sometimes Easy Does It! Lentil-Bulgur Pilaf and Ayran…

I have a feeling that you will understand me very well here… For the past 48 hours, a persistent, nasty headache has been drilling through my head, my neck and my eyes. When the headache comes so strong, it normally brings his best friend over as well: Nausea… I have not been well enough to eat anything but a piece of bread and cheese all Saturday. I am a walking OTC medicine shelf because I have mixed and matched so many different varieties, it is not even funny. I can not remember anymore which combination I took last.

Headaches have been a part of my life since high school years. No matter how sad or wrong it is, they have become the new normal for me. Most of the time I can handle it, work through it, drive with it, live with it! But once or twice a month, it knocks me out like this, tying me to bed with closed blinds and leaves me begging to my husband “Please chop my head off, pleassseee” Seriously it feels like this is the only way I can get rid of them during those hours and I feel like the Queen of Hearts from “Alice in Wonderland”: Off With the Head! My head, in this case!

Though I had grand plans on making something involved yeast, butter and lots of dough this weekend, I have to wait for that. I resorted back to my favorite comfort food as soon as I was able to eat something today. Bulgur Pilaf with green lentils and Ayran, a yogurt drink. Ayran is widely consumed during summer months in Turkey because it has all the things you need on a hot summer day: yogurt, salt, and cold water. Bulgur pilaf is normally done in 15 -20 min and green lentils add the much needed protein and iron without consuming a big piece of steak.

I can not get enough of both. A cold cup of ayran and a couple big heaping spoons of pilaf leave one refreshed and plenty full. They don’t mess with your stomach or your head. Don’t wait for a headache to hit you to try this! Goes better with a clear mind and vision.

Afiyet Olsun!

Bulgur Pilaf with Lentils

  • 1 cup of cooked green lentils or 1/2 cup of uncooked green lentils
  • 1 cup of medium or coarse bulgur
  • 3/4 cup of finely diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup of finely diced green bell peppers
  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 medium tomato (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Water

1. Soak uncooked lentils for 4 hours. Drain and wash them several times to get rid of brown water. Place them in a small pan, cover with water and cook until they are done on medium high heat. Drain, set aside.

2. In a medium size pot, heat olive oil for a minute, add onion and green bell peppers. Saute for 10 minutes or until they are cooked.

3. In a 2-cup measure, place the grated tomato and add tomato paste. With a fork, stir well to combine. Add water to tomato mixture  until it reaches 1-1/2 cup mark for medium bulgur or 1-3/4 cup mark for coarse bulgur.

4. Pour the contents of the measure in the pot, add salt, pepper. Add bulgur, stir to combine everything.

5. Cover, bring it to a boil on medium-high heat. Once it boils for 30 seconds, bring the heat down to medium-low.

6. It will be ready when water is gone. Taste and see if the bulgur is still crunchy. If you think it needs more water, add hot water and keep cooking covered. Bulgur should be soft when you bite into it.

7. Add dry mint and green lentils.


  • 1 cup of cold water
  • 1 cup of thick,strained yogurt
  • Salt to taste

1. Put water and yogurt in a mixing bowl.

2. With electric mixer, beat for 1-2 minutes, until it combines. Add salt to taste.





  1. by Elizabeth
    7:45 pm
    Jul 31, 2011

    Ilke, I hope that you’re feeling better…I, too, get very bad headaches and often become nauseous. This looks like the perfect comfort food…I think I’ll just call you the next time I have a headache!

  2. by Ilke
    7:47 pm
    Jul 31, 2011

    I feel bad for you! Yes, give me a call, and we can be miserable together across the ocean :)

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