This delicious salad is filling, full of aromatic green herbs and SO easy to make! Kissir is a Turkish bulgur salad that has spread from the Anatolian region and is very popular all over Turkey. This basic recipe can be modified with your favorite add-ins. Some ways you may want to adapt to your own tase: add in pomegranate seeds, crunchy walnuts, extra greens such as spinach, or even some freshly diced vegetables such as peppers, carrots, or tomatoes!
The main base of this salad is a very finely cracked wheat, called fine bulgur. Bulgur is vitamin and nutrient rich whole grain that comes from the process of boiling, cracking, and then drying the wheat. Fiber- rich foods such as bulgur decrease the risk of chronic diseases, and can even improve wight loss and digestion. Bulgur is very popular in the Middle East, and heavily used in Turkey. My favorite thing about bulgur is how quickly and easily it cooks up into a fluffy grain. Coarser bulgur can be used in place of rice or couscous, and it can be cooked tender within 5-10 minutes!
The first time I had this delicious salad was in the humble kitchen of my friend and Turkish chef extraordinaire, Ayse. I brought some home to my husband and he would not stop raving about how delicious it was! So this recipe is based off of what I could recall from hers, with a few additions of my own. The layers of flavors are such a delicious medley of tart lemon and pomegranate, the spice of cumin, sumac and red pepper paste, and the mixture of so many fresh green herbs. This salad only gets better in flavor as it sits and the bulgur further marinates.
Kissir Turkish Bulgur Salad
- 2 cups fine bulgur
- 1 small onion minced
- 2 tbs tomato paste
- 1-2 tbsp mild red pepper paste
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp sumac
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 1 bunch parsley minced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro minced
- 1 bunch dill minced
- 1 bunch mint minced
- 6 spring onions or scallions diced
- bib lettuce or romaine lettuce shaped as a cup to scoop up the salad
- 1 cup dill pickles diced
- 1 cup cucumbers diced
- Pour 2.5 cups of cold water over the bulgur in a very large bowl, stir gently. Be sure bulgur is covered by 1 inch of water above the bulgur. Cover with a towel, and allow the bulgur to fluff up. Using cold water takes about 20-30 minutes, but ensures a more loose and fluffy grain. You may use hot water for faster results.
- Over medium heat, saute the minced onion in 3 tbsp of olive oil. Once the onions begin to turn yellow, add 1 tsp of salt.
- Add the garlic and cumin. Allow the cumin to bloom in scent.
- Add the tomato paste and pepper paste to the pan and move it around in the pan for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat. Allow this mixture to cool a bit.
- By now, the bulgur should be ready. Taste a few grains to make sure it is not crisp in the center.
- Once the bulgur is ready, the water will have been all absorbed. Pour in the tomato and onion sauce mixture. Combine well. Add the pomegranate molasses, remaining olive oil, sumac, black pepper, and more salt if needed to your taste.
- Add the chopped herbs and scallions and toss together.
- Add the chopped pickles and cucumbers if using.
- Arrange the leaves of lettuce on a platter and spoon the kissir over the leaves. Scoop up and enjoy with the lettuce cups, or simply with a spoon.