With summer barbecues in full swing, why not add a new and exciting salad to your repertoire of side dishes? We all know the typical salads served at barbecues, coleslaw, potato salad, tabbouleh, and the likes, but once you've tried Turkey's kisir salad, I am sure it will be a regular on your table!
Kisir is quite similar to tabbouleh, but also very different. They both have bulghur and herbs as main ingredients, but while tabbouleh is heavier on the herbs, kisir has more of a bulghur base with the addition of herbs, and when it comes to the dressings, they are completely different. Tabbouleh has the basic lemon juice, olive oil, and salt dressing, while kisir has so many bold flavours, like tomato paste, pepper paste, cumin, and pomegranate molasses, all packing a punch!
The ingredients are generally easy to find, but you want to make sure you buy the correct ones. First, for the bulghur, you need to buy the fine rather than coarse bulghur, otherwise, it will remain hard when you soak it. Second, the pepper paste should be red peppers made into a paste, this is generally easy to find in your Turkish or Middle Eastern shops, online, or even is some supermarkets. However, if you're having a hard time locating it, I would add a little bit more tomato paste and some paprika. Finally, we have our pomegranate molasses, which is becoming more and more popular and can be found at any Middle Eastern supermarket or online.
Once you have all your ingredients and your bulghur is soaked, the salad comes together very quickly, but it is all about how you mix it. You want to add your spices, oil, lemon juice, molasses, and pastes first and work them into the bulghur. You don't want to be too rough, but you do want to make sure everything is mixed in very well. Once you're happy with it, you can gently fold in the herbs, because you don't want to bruise them, and you don't want your salad to turn into mush. Like many other recipes across the Middle East, each area has its own way of making kisir, and this is a basic recipe. Some add tomatoes or cucumbers, so feel free to do so too.
To serve, you can either serve it on a big bed of lettuce, or, the way I prefer to serve it, is to spoon some into individual lettuce leaves, and have them like little lettuce cups! Make sure you fluff up your salad as you serve it. You could use a fork for this. I like to garnish with some pomegranate seeds to add some more texture, and you can have wedges of lemon for extra tanginess. Serve this on its own for a filling salad or as a side to a grilled meat of your choice and be prepared to fall in love with this super flavourful salad!
350 g fine bulghur wheat
530 ml warm water
220 g spring onion (1 big bunch)
200 g parsley (1 big bunch)
100 g fresh mint
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 ½ tbsp pepper paste (you can use more tomato paste with some paprika if you can't find pepper paste)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cumin
100 ml olive oil
5 tbsp pomegranate molasses
Lemon juice to taste
Gem or Romaine lettuce to serve
Pomegranate seeds to garnish
- Place the bulghur in a large bowl and add the water. Cover, and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. The bulghur will absorb the water and soften.
- While your bulghur is soaking, chop the parsley, mint, and spring onions and set them aside.
- Once the bulghur has absorbed the water, add the tomato and pepper paste, pomegranate molasses, cumin, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Mix together well.
- Add in the parsley, mint, and spring onion and mix in gently. Taste and adjust seasoning to liking.
- To serve, line the bottom of your serving platter with some lettuce and place the kisir on top. Try to keep the kisir as fluffy as possible and do not overwork it.
- Garnish with some pomegranate seeds and enjoy on its own or as a side to grilled meat.