Wednesday, November 20, 2013


As a good little future Armenian housewife, part of me cringes to make a Turkish dish.  But, since Mark's family says they aren't still mad about the genocide, I guess that I, as an Irish-Italian, really have no beef with the Turks.  Luckily it is still acceptable for me to make Turkish foods, particularly vegetarian Turkish foods, specifically: this kisir.

Yes, I had to Google how to say it.  It's kind of a mix between cusser and kisser, if that makes sense.  But what is it?  Basically it is a salad made from vegetables, bulgur, and spices - it's rather similar to tabbouleh (bulgur is in that too).  But this kisir has way more flavor than any tabbouleh you've ever tasted.

Onions are sautéed with tomato paste and chopped tomatoes.  Bulgur is added once it's removed from the heat (weird, I know) and then you add pomegranate molasses (if you have it, which I didn't unfortunately), lemon juice, lots of fresh parsley, scallions, garlic (yes it stays raw, so I think I would cut the amount in half next time), cumin, mint, and - my personal favorite part - pomegranate seeds.  You end up with this salad that has so many flavor combinations going on that it seems illegal.  It's salty and spicy and with those pops of sweet pomegranate juice, it's pretty much irresistible.

The recipe says to serve this salad with lettuce leaves; I wasn't feeling lettuce-y though, so I would totally eat it in pita bread (if I had pita bread... which I did not).  I ended up putting it in sandwiches for me and Mark.  Nothing special - just ham and cheese, with the kisir as a condiment.  It was absolutely amazing.  Mark even asked for a second sandwich.  We both agreed it was the best sandwich on earth because of the greatness of the kisir.

For some reason, my family did not embrace the kisir.  This recipe claims to serve 4 but really it makes a lot, and unfortunately I tossed a lot of it a week or so after I had eaten so many kisir sandwiches I was starting to worry that I may be turning into a Turk.  I don't know why no one tried it, because I really do think it wasn't possible not to like it.  Give kisir a chance, okay?!


from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi
serves 4

2 large onions, finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I didn't peel mine)
1/2 cup water
1 cup medium bulgur wheat
1 1/2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (I used regular but I definitely want to find this!)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 green onions, finely shredded, plus extra to finish
2 fresh green chiles, seeded and finely chopped (I skipped it)
2 garlic cloves,  crushed (I recommend using only one, minced)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and black pepper
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
handful of mint leaves, some whole and some roughly shredded


1) Place the onions and olive oil in a large pan and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until translucent.  Add the tomato paste and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and simmer on low heat for a further 4 minutes.  Now add the water and bring to a boil.  Remove immediately from the heat and stir in the bulgur.

2) Next, add the molasses, lemon juice, parsley, green onions, chiles, garlic, cumin, and some salt and pepper.  Stir well, then leave aside until the dish reaches room temperature or is just lukewarm(you have to wait or the bulgur isn't soft enough to eat!  Found this out from experience).  Taste it and adjust seasoning; it will need plenty of salt.

3) Spoon the kisir onto serving dishes and flatten our roughly with a spoon, creating a wave-like pattern on the surface.  Scatter pomegranate seeds all over, drizzle with olive oil, and finish with mint and green onion.

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