When is tabbouleh not tabbouleh? Answer: When it is a Turkish dish made with slightly different ingredients and called kısır. Kısır is made from the fine bulgur wheat (cracked wheat). When I’ve written about other Turkish foods in the past, I think I’ve said that a particular dish is my favourite. (Maybe when I wrote about Antalya Usulü Piyaz). Well, I’ll just have to have more than one favourite because both of us love kısır.
I always make a ridiculous amount for just the two of us – it lasts in the fridge for a few days so we always get through it and we’re sorry when it’s gone.I first came across kısır in Turkish recipe books but I wasn’t over keen on the outcome. I’ve since found out that – as with lots of other Turkish food – it’s made differently in different regions of Turkey and I had made an Eastern version with a lot of tomato paste. The only restaurant I know that serves kısır in Fethiye is Mozaik Bahçe (the best restaurant in Fethiye in our opinion but closed for winter at the minute) and as they specialise in food from the Hatay region of Turkey, their kısır is the version I made – but much more edible!
A Turkish Recipe for Kısır
And so this is the version I make now and, as with the mücver recipe, it’s amazing how so little effort can produce such amazing food. We make it when we have friends over for barbecues so you can reduce quantities if it’s just for two of you. And again, as with the Turkish mücver recipe, I got it from Almost Turkish Recipes but I change it a little. Don’t be put off from making it if you can’t get hold of any nar ekşisi (sour pomegranate sauce). Lemon is fine. If you’re in Turkey, you can get sour pomegranate sauce from the supermarket or local shops and if you’re lucky enough to know someone who makes it – great! The real thing made a big difference to my kısır. I also use tomato paste rather then red pepper paste because I prefer the flavour. It’s sweeter.
- Pour 1 cup of fine bulgur wheat in a bowl (we use a coffee mug).
- Melt a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste in 2 cups of hot water, pour it over the bulgur and leave for 10 minutes or so to go soft. (It’s traditional to use red pepper paste but I know this is nigh on impossible to get hold of in Britain and probably other countries – and I prefer the flavour of tomato paste in kısır).
- Chop a bunch of spring onions, a cucumber and a couple of red peppers and put in a large serving bowl. De-seed and chop a couple of tomatoes and throw these in as well. (It’s worth taking the time to get rid of the seeds then you’re just left with the ‘meaty’ bit of the tomato and not the juices).
- Fork through your bulgur adding a little olive oil as you go and then pour it all in your serving bowl and give it a good mix.
- Chop a bunch of parsley and add it to your mixture. (We’re not big parsley fans and I thought this was going to be far too much at first but it works.)
- Add salt, a pinch of mint and chilli flakes and mix those in. (I’m not saying how much exactly because it’s up to you – make it to your taste).
- Add a couple of tablespoonfuls of nar ekşisi (pomegranate molasses) and / or the juice of half a lemon. Taste it to check how much lemon you need.
Kısır goes really well with grilled meats – especially lamb. Turkish people also eat it as a meze on a bed of lettuce and me, I eat a spoonful whenever I go in the fridge.