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Turkish Summertime Tabbouleh - Kısır

Jul 14, 2010

This is my ultimate summertime dish. It is worth a million when I come back home from an exhausting day at the beach, sun worn and hungry as a beast and see a bowl of kısır waiting for me on the kitchen counter, with fresh crunchy lettuce leaves on the side. I ease my hunger with a plateful than take a nice nap to recharge for the evening. Life is hard.

Kısır was the first thing that came to my mind when a girl from my German language class invited us over to her apartment and asked us to contribute with some home made food. We were a funny bunch of foreigners who ended up in Vienna for one reason or the other and although most of us spoke English we tried to stick to German so our hours of German learning wouldn't go wasted. Now I can't think of a more idiotic scene than grown-ups desperately trying to communicate with limited words and grammar. Our conversations couldn't go beyond "who is your favourite actor?" or " Gudzte (she means Gozde) did you find the address fine?" and rudimentary jokes that I laughed at not because they were funny but because the fact that I understood them thrilled me. 

Anyways, I remember that a French dude had brought over a quiche (a really good one and normally I don't like quiche) and bragged about how he did it with his eyes closed because for him, quiche was the easiest thing in the world. (A French guy bragging. Shocking!) Our Russian host made Russian salad with diced apples, another perfect buffet dish in my opinion. But needless to say, my Kısır was the highlight of the buffet. Everybody found scooping it with lettuce leaves instead of a fork very original and oriental. Isn't it funny how easy it is to impress people of western cultures (I take Turkey as the reference point when I say western) with similar little tricks. I admit I use that token every now and than. For instance I had a friend who was mesmerized with Turkish tea glasses. Although at home I drink tea in a mug with a tea bag, (just like a "boring westerner" according to him),I didn't want to crush his feelings so I kept that to myself. And once a friend asked me if I could show her how to belly dance. I didn't tell her that I had no idea how to, instead I said that I would be embarrassed to dance in front of them. Why crush the perfect image in her head of a Turkish girl. Why not let her believe all Turkish girls are great belly dancers, just like I want to think that all Brazilians are excellent soccer players and all Latin Americans are salsa dancers.

Anyway, I got carried too far away with memories. Back to the recipe: I remember for that evening I abstained from using spicy pepper flakes since most "westerners" unfamiliar to "eastern" cuisine are very intolerant to it. At home where we like spicy, I add lots of it. Ok westerners and easterners, enjoy my kisir!

Turkish Tabbouleh

Turkish Summertime Tabbouleh


  • 1 cup fine ground bulgur
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 large handfuls parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 large handfuls mint, finely chopped
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 + 1/2 lemon's juice
  • 100 ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • salt to taste


  1. In a small bowl, mix tomato paste, juice of lemon, pepper, salt, ground cumin and red pepper flakes.
  2. Pour the olive oil in a medium size pot and add onion. Cook until transparent, over medium heat.
  3. Add bulgur with 1/2 cup hot water. Add the mixture you've prepared and stir.
  4. When bulgur absorbs water turn the heat off. Leave to brew for 10 minutes, lid covered. Taste bulgur, if too stiff add more hot water and leave 10 more minutes for brewing.
  5. Transfer cooked bulgur into a big bowl and let cool for 20 minutes. Add spring onions, tomatoes, parsley and mint, mix well.
  6. Check the seasoning and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice to your liking.
  7. Drizzle with a little pomegranate syrup. Serve with fresh lettuce leaves, cucumbers or blanched grape leaves.
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