Recipe Corner: Bulgur Pilaf with Pomegranate Molasses and Black Garlic Dressing From Feast in the Middle East


Blanche Shaheen is an Arab American television host and reporter who reported on ABC’s “View from the Bay,” hosted the independent film show, “Video I” for PBS for 10 years, and reported live news daily for the Tech TV show called “Tech Live.”  In 2010, she began hosting her own cooking show, and sharing years of treasured family recipes preserved by her mother and grandmother.  Growing up in a close Arab American household, traditional Arabic dishes were central to Blanche’s family’s life.  However, she noticed that previous generations of her family did not document these recipes on paper, but handed down the cooking techniques only by word of mouth.  So she began a mission of cultural preservation, documenting the cooking methods and exact ingredients for each of her family recipes, and her inspiring Middle Eastern website and food blog, Feast in the Middle East, was born.

Blanche launched her YouTube cooking show called Feast in the Middle East to share many recipes with her family and friends, and with the world.  This Bulgur Pilaf with Pomegranate Molasses and Black Garlic Dressing recipe is a family favorite, and is featured in her indispensable new Arab cookbook, Feast in the Middle East, A Personal Journey of Family and Cuisine, published in 2020.

“It seems the pomegranate was domesticated more than once, in several places around Iran, the Levant and Near East, possibly starting about 8,000 years ago,” says Blanche. “Pomegranates are planted in many Mediterranean countries. In Lebanon, they grow on the coast as well as mountainous areas, cultivated by rainfall.  The fruit comes in sour and sweet varieties but both types have immense health benefits.  The pomegranate is native to a region from modern-day Iran to northern India.”

Pomegranates have been cultivated throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and Mediterranean region for several millennia, and it is also cultivated in the Central Valley of California and in Arizona. This dish is a healthy way to feature the great taste of pomegranate seeds and molasses, and makes an inviting side dish when pomegranates are at peak season, she adds.

Bulgur Pilaf with Pomegranate Molasses and Black Garlic Dressing  “A collection of fresh mint gathered from the garden, a bag of ripe pomegranates from the farmer’s market, some leftover grains in the pantry, or an exotic condiment like pomegranate molasses all fuel my recipe creations,” says Blanche.  “These ingredients inspired this bulgur pilaf. Like a bowl of jewels, the flavors and textures are at once chewy, crunchy, nutty, sweet, and savory.  I serve this non-perishable dish at potlucks and picnics, or as part of a holiday feast (the green and red in the pilaf add a festive touch).  The dressing is simple yet robust because of the sweet and tart pomegranate molasses, and the black garlic which adds luxurious flavor.

You can use garlic powder or minced garlic cloves if you don’t have black garlic.  I love black garlic because it has hints of caramel, with no pungency so you can eat it as is without sautéing first.”

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1 cup bulgur #3 or #4 (larger variety)

1-2 tablespoons butter, to taste

1 shallot, minced

1 1/4 cups broth (either chicken or vegetable)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup sultanas (golden raisins or use any dried fruit you like)

1/4 cup shelled, roasted, and salted pistachios

1/2 cup garbanzo or cannellini beans (canned)

Salt and pepper to taste



1 large bulb black garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Salt to taste


Serves 4.


Heat butter in a saucepan. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the bulgur, tomato paste, cumin, about a half teaspoon salt, and the broth. Stir and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes (or follow package directions).

For the dressing, in a small food processor, whirl together the black garlic (or garlic powder), orange juice, pomegranate molasses, salt and olive oil. Let the cooked bulgur cool then add the rest of the ingredients (from the pomegranate seeds to the garbanzo beans).

Add salt and pepper to taste, then drizzle the pomegranate molasses dressing over the bulgur mixture, and toss gently to combine.

Note: You can purchase ready-to-eat seeds in the refrigerated area of many supermarket produce sections.  Pomegranate seeds contain a high number of antioxidants, which help protect the body against inflammation and free radical damage.  Whereas the regular pomegranate season runs from October through the holidays, ready-to-eat seeds are available in grocery stores through February or March.

ORDER TODAY: Feast in the Middle East is a new hardback cookbook full of colorful illustrations, meticulous and detailed directions, family anecdotes, and historical information about these cherished Lebanese recipes. While many of these dishes used to take hours to make, Blanche modernized these recipes to adapt to today’s modern palate and hectic lifestyles.  Ancient recipes like chewy semolina date ring cookies called Ma’moul commemorate both Easter and Ramadan, while a 2000-year-old cinnamon-spiced bulgur wheat porridge called Burbarrah celebrates the Feast of Santa Barbara in the Arab Levant, Malta, and even Eastern Europe. Fusion dishes like Baklava Granola with pistachios and cardamom, Middle Eastern Nachos or “Machos” with pita chips and cucumber yogurt sauce, and Lemon Cheesecake made with creamy labneh cheese adapt Middle Eastern spices and ingredients to Western tastes.


To order, go to:


Check Blanche’s helpful cooking video tutorials and other recipes at: — or her food blog at


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