Kisir: Turkish Tabbouleh


Turkish food makes my heart & appetite sing.  The hearty flavors, taste & warmth of the food, besides being healthy gather into a tickling wanting sensation.

Kisir is no exception; a traditional Turkish side/salad, (call it another form of Tabbouleh, only more spicy), it is a  dish made from bulgur flavored with  red pepper paste, parsley, and tomato paste. Unlike the Tabbouleh, Kisir  has a reddish color due to tomato & pepper paste. It can be eaten cold and used as a salad or is usually served as a meze/appetizer.

Traditionally Taboulleh is made with Bulgur. If you do not have Bulgur, Cracked wheat may be used, however cracked wheat takes longer to cook, & the it does not taste exactly the same as Bulgur. There is often a confusion with the Bulgur & Cracked Wheat or what is commonly called Dalia in Indian terms. Both are wheat products & the difference lies in the way the wheat is processed.

Here is the difference:

Cracked Wheat or Dalia: “Raw whole wheat berries that are crushed to varying qualities of texture are called cracked wheat and require cooking. These are also found in 3 grades of coarseness: fine, medium and coarse, the choice of which depends on use and preference. “

Bulgur:Partially hulled whole wheat kernels that are soaked, then steamed (hence pre-cooked if you will), dried and then crushed are called bulghur. Because the processes is more involved, bulghur is the more expensive product and is more tender than cracked wheat. It has a pleasant chewy texture, is easier to digest and for most of us, is tastier.  Confusingly, some sources use wheat berries to make bulghur. What differentiates the two is that bulghur is soaked, steamed/cooked BEFORE the cracking.  This difference gives bulghur a far longer storage life than cracked wheat. ” (More Info in the Grains Basics – Bulghur & Cracked Wheat)


This recipe is adapted from Almost Turkish Recipes.

Kisir: Turkish Tabbouleh

Ingredients: (serves 2-4)

  1. 1 cup of fıne Bulgur (or Cracked Wheat)
  2. 3/4 Tablespoon tomato paste
  3. 1 Teaspoon Hot pepper paste (I made a paste of the Red Dry Chillies I had at home; adjust the amount to taste)
  4. 3-4 Tablespoons  olive oil
  5. 1/2 Cup  Green Onions/Scallions, finely chopped
  6. 1 Small Onion, cut in thin half moons
  7. 2 Cups flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  8. 1 Small Cucumber, finely chopped
  9. Hot Peppers, finely chopped (adjust amount to taste)
  10. 1 Tablespoon pomegranate syrup ( I did not have the ready made syrup, so I boiled down some POM juice with sugar & lemon juice)
  11. Juice of  1/2 lemon (adjust amount to taste)
  12. 1 Teaspoon ground black pepper
  13. 1 Tablespoon Dried Mint
  14. 1/2 Tablespoon Cumin
  15. 1 Tomato, finely chopped + more for the sides
  16. Lettuce leaves


Cooking Bulgur:

Soak bulgur in cold water until soft; for about 1/2 hour.  Squeeze out excess water from bulgur using hands or paper towel. Or Cook according to the package direction.

[Cooking the Cracked Wheat/Dalia:

Soak the Cracked Wheat/Dalia in enough water to just cover it. Let it soak for about an hour. Most of the water will be absorbed. If there is additional water, drain and reserve. Boil 2 Cups of water & cook the soaked cracked wheat for about 15-20 minutes or till tender. Drain the excess liquid & dry it. Set aside the drained cooked cracked wheat.]

Put tomato and pepper paste in a big bowl and mix them together. Add the cooked cracked wheat/bulgur and  salt into this mix. Stir once. Cover with and let it soak the water for 10-15 minutes.

Cut the onion into very thin half-moon shapes. In a little bowl, knead/crush onion with 1 teaspoon salt . Rinse salt and squeeze excessive water.

Fluff cracked wheat/bulgur with a fork. Add  ground pepper, cumin, mint flakes, oil, pomegranate syrup, lemon juice, and kneaded onion. Mix well. At this point taste to see if it needs more lemon juice. Kisir should taste slightly sour.

Add sliced fresh peppers, spring onions, tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley. Mix everything together well.

Kisir is served and eaten with lettuce leaves and tomatoes.

You can make the salad up to 2 hours ahead and keep it at room temperature.

You can wrap some Kisir in a lettuce leaf and eat with slices of tomato on the side.

If you decide to make the Kisir for a crowd, serve Lettuce & Tomato Slices on the side, & the guests can make their own little wraps (Like the one above).


If you have never had Kisir before, you got to give this a try. The fresh taste of the herbs & cucumber combined with the heat of the pepper, the warmth of the olive oil & pomegranate syrup… the summery taste of tomato will definitely get you craving for more. Sending the Kisir to No Croutons Required, hosted by Lisa of Lisa’s Vegetarian Kitchen. The Theme this month is Grains.

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Chick Pea Salad with Roasted Tomatoes

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