Special equipment: a deep-frying thermometer
Put the bulgur in a medium bowl, add 4 cups cold water and let soak for about 2 hours.
Put the cilantro, garlic, onions and cubanelle peppers in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the pieces are finely chopped but not pureed. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 ounces of the ground beef, 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few grindings of black pepper and cook, stirring to break up the beef into small pieces, until brown. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon.
Turn the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the reserved onion and pepper mixture, cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, about 20 minutes. Remove half of this mixture to a bowl to cool.
Add the tomatoes, olives, raisins, browned beef and another 1/2 teaspoon salt to the remaining mixture in the pan. Break up the tomatoes and simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid has cooked off, about 20 minutes. Let this mixture cool completely.
Strain the bulgur and add it to the bowl with the cooled cooked onion mixture. Add the remaining 12 ounces raw ground beef, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and some black pepper and mix thoroughly. Form a flat, thin patty using 2 tablespoons of the raw beef and bulgur mixture. Add 2 teaspoons of the cooled filling to the middle and enclose the patty around it until it resembles a torpedo with thin tapered ends. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining beef and bulgur mixture. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
Heat 3 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan until a deep-frying thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350 degrees F. Fry the patties, about 3 at a time, until cooked through, 3 minutes. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. Repeat with the remaining patties.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
You can easily double the ingredients for the beef and bulgur mixture for a party. This recipe makes more than enough filling. Use it for filling empanadas, or serve it over rice for a delicious meal.