Kısır is the Turkish and different version of a Mediterranean/Arabic dish called tabbouleh. Although there are many differences between these two dishes, the main one is that the Turkish tabbouleh has tomato and pepper paste. In Turkey the recipe for kısır varies from region to region. In Adana they use more water than anywhere else or in Antakya (Hatay) they don’t use water at all; they knead bulgur with tomato and pepper paste until it gets soft. However it’s made, kısır is made everywhere in Turkey and is loved dearly. It is served sometimes with the afternoon tea, sometimes as a meze, and sometimes as a great summer dish you can enjoy when it’s boiling hot outside.
2 cups of fıne bulgur
2 cups of hot water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste (preferably spicy, if you cannot find pepper paste, double the tomato paste)
1/4 -1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 small onion, cut in thin half rounds
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cucumber, finely chopped
2 sweet green peppers, finely chopped (closest thing to sweet green peppers here is shishito pepper or sweet Italians)
juice of 1 or 1/2 lemon (you have to taste and add less or more lemon juice)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp mint flakes or 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
a pinch of ground cumin
romain lettuce leaves
Although it’s undeniably non-Turkish, I love the crunchiness of endives in my kısır.
Some people add finely sliced or minced garlic to their kısır and some use pomegranate syrup for sourness.
-Put tomato and pepper paste in a big bowl and melt them with boiling hot water. Add bulgur and 1 tsp salt into this mix. Stir once. Cover with a thick kitchen towel and let it soak the water for 10 minutes.
-Cut the onion in half first, then into very thin half-moon shapes. In a little bowl, knead onion with 1 tsp salt. Rinse salt and squeeze excessive water.
-Fluff bulgur with a fork. Add pepper flakes, sumac, cumin, mint flakes, oil, lemon juice, and kneaded onion. Add garlic and pomegranate syrup at this stage if you will use any. Mix well. At this point taste to see if it needs more lemon juice. Kısır should be a little bit sour.
-Add banana peppers, spring onions, cucumber, and parsley. Mix well.
-If served with sliced tomatoes and lettuce leaves Kısır is delicious. We don’t add tomatoes to kısır, because tomatoes make it mushy. So kısır is usually served on a lettuce bed (you can wrap some kısır in a lettuce leaf and eat like that) with slices of tomato on the side.