This easy and delicious kisir recipe made with bulgar wheat and fresh tomatoes is a flavour packed salad. Slightly tart from pomegranate molasses, with a freshness from tomatoes, parsley and mint and bursts of pomegranate seeds, it is a delicious side to many dishes as well as being a meal in itself.
What is Kisir?
Kisir is a simple Turkish bulgar salad. Soaked finely ground bulgar is mixed with tomato paste/puree, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and lemon juice before fresh tomatoes, spring onions, pomegranate seeds and herbs are added. It is similar to tabouleh, but has several differences:
What’s the difference between Kisir & Tabuleh?
The dressing for kisir includes tomato paste and pomegranate molasses rather in addition to lemon juice and olive oil which it the traditional dressing for Tabouleh. Tabouleh, although made with fine bulgar wheat, contains less bulgar to herbs, whereas kisir uses a large proportion of bulgar to vegetables and herbs.
Why we love this recipe
- Easy recipe – soak the bulgar, chop the vegetables and mix to combine!
- No cooking required, just soak the bulgar in boiling water. This makes it a great hot summers day recipe!
- It keeps well, in fact it tastes better the day after it is made
- Vegetarian and vegan.
- Filling and healthy.
- Can be served as a main dish and side dish.
- Finely ground bulgar – You don’t need to cook this, just soak. If you can’t find fine bulgar wheat, use coarse bulgar and cook it according to the packet instructions.
- Pomegranate Molasses – a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern recipes with a sweet-sharp flavour. As an alternative, use lemon juice mixed with a thick balsamic vinegar.
- Tomato puree – also called tomato paste. Kisir is sometimes made with red pepper paste rather than tomato paste, but I am using tomato as it is easier to find.
- Fresh tomatoes – use ripe tomatoes for maximum flavour.
- Spring onions – also called scallions or green onions, add a mild onion flavour to the salad.
- Olive oil – use a good olive oil, Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) if possible.
- Chilli flakes – If you can buy Aleppo pepper, the traditional Turkish pepper used in this salad, I would recommend it. As I haven’t been able to find any yet I have used a small amount of chilli flakes as a substitute.
How to make this bulgar wheat salad
- Soak the bulgar…
- …until it’s soft and fluffy
- Chop the vegetables and herbs.
- Mix the tomato puree, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses and olive oil into the bulgar.
- Add the vegetables and herbs.
Bulgar wheat comes from cracked kernels of wheat that have been parboiled and dried. It is a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern cuisine and is available as fine, coarse, and extra coarse.
Will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days but it is better served the day after it is made.
I do not recommend freezing this salad.
My Recipe Tips
- Mix the tomato paste into the bulgar with your hands rather than just using a spoon – this ensures all the bulgar wheat absorbs the flavours.
- The bulgar wheat grains should be tender, not chewy. If they are, then soak them for a few more minutes.
- You can serve this salad warm or cold.
- Spicier salad – add another ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes.
How to eat this Turkish bulgar salad
- A side dish to kebabs, roast or grilled chicken, lamb or vegetables.
- As part of a mezze, with hummus – like this roast vegetable hummus, feta and cucumber salad, olives, and flatbread.
- As a barbecue side or buffet dish.
- Make into a main dish – I stir in a tin of cooked chickpeas for some vegan protein, or some leftover cooked chicken.
- In a lunchbox.
- Roll into balls and serve with crisp lettuce leaves (like the picture below). Roll into balls with wet hands to stop the bulgar from sticking to your hands.
More filling salad recipes
These salads are all a tasty side as well as being a delicious meal in themselves
- 310g (1½ c) Fine Bulgar
- 600-720ml (2.5-3c) Hot Water
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree (Tomato Paste)
- ½ tsp Chilli Flakes (can add 1 tsp depending on taste)
- 1 Lemon juiced
- 2 tbsp Pomegranate Molasses
- 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Spring Onions finely sliced
- 4 Tomatoes finely diced
- 1 handful Fresh flat leaf Parsley finely chopped
- 1 handful Fresh mint optional
- 2-3 tbsp Pomegranate Seeds
- extra pomegranate seeds optional, for serving
- Mix bulgar and hot water and leave for 20 minutes (follow bulgar packet instructions if different)
- Add the tomato puree, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt & pepper and knead into th bulgar with your hands until thoroughly combined.
- Stir in chopped spring onions, tomatoes, parsley, mint (if using) and pomegranate seeds.
- Check for seasoning.
- Transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle over pomegranate seeds if using.