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Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir


We made Kisir today with the children. We talked about how important it is for us to be able to share and have an access to the recipes from our mothers, grandmothers, and be able to pass on to friends, family and to the next generation. More than being recipes, they really reflect our heritage, culture, traditions and keep the memories alive.

So here comes kisir, from my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table. Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya, where my roots are from, and in Gaziantep. Kisir is generally made with nar eksisi (sour pomegranate molasses) instead of lemon juice – though it is common to use lemon juice for Kisir at northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves. This dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It really is a “bowl of health and goodness” with fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce full of antioxidants.

This wonderful, refreshing can be prepared a couple of days in advance and can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days. As a matter of fact, it tastes even better a day or two later it’s made! I hope you can get to try the recipe. If you can’t find pomegranate molasses, a good balsamic vinegar and lemon juice also works well in this bulgur wheat salad. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi is used widely in this salad in Southern Turkish cooking; you can always make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

Note: There are two main varieties of bulgur wheat available, fine and coarse bulgur. Fine bulgur is traditionally used in  salads like kisir whereas coarse bulgur is used in pilafs or As as we call it in Antakya. If you can’t get the fine bulgur wheat, you can also make this salad with coarse bulgur, widely available in supermarkets. In that case, use 240ml/8 fl oz hot water for 175gr/6oz coarse bulgur and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, covered.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

350gr/12oz fine bulgur wheat
240ml/8 fl oz hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
5ml / 1 teaspoon pul biber, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
30ml/ 2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate molasses, nar eksisi
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Small bunch of finely chopped flat leaf (Italian) parsley
5ml / 1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Pomegranate seeds to serve (optional)
Lettuce leaves to serve

Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, red pepper flakes (or paprika or chili flakes), tomato paste, red pepper paste and the chopped onion and knead thoroughly – this will help all the flavors marry and the onion to soften-. Pour the hot water over this mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes. It should absorb all the water by the end of this period. The bulgur should be of a dry consistency.

Add the lemon juice and the pomegranate molasses together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

Image by Sian Irvine Photography, from Ozlem’s Turkish table cookery book

Serve as a salad in a bowl garnished with pomegranate seeds (if preferred) and  lettuce leaves. Alternatively, take spoonfuls of the mixture and with wet hands roll into balls the size of walnuts. Refrigerate until required.

Afiyet Olsun,


New! Ozlem Turkish Table Apron on Sale

I am absolutely delighted to share with you that we also designed this special Ozlem’s Turkish Table apron, just in time for the holiday gift giving season. It is special to my heart, as it is made in Turkey, with my hometown Antakya’s celebrated daphne leaves in the hand embroidered design – this lovely apron would make a wonderful gift for the festive season, you can get yours at this link. Delivered worldwide including the US.


Ozlem’s Turkish Table Interview with TRT Radio 1 (Turkish National Radio 1)

It’s been an honor to be interviewed by the Turkish National Radio, TRT Radyo 1, at the Gunebakan Program today, talking about Turkish cuisine abroad. A special moment for me, talking in Turkish, at my homeland’s national radio channel. As we talked during the interview, our  recipes are valuable gateways to share our thousands years of our culinary heritage with the world and pass on to the next generations. Also living abroad, I well know how precious our food is to connect us to our homeland, our memories and bring our stories to life. It is such a privilege to share my homeland Turkey’s amazing culinary heritage, traditions, recipes, hospitality, through these precious opportunities and  my cookery book, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, Recipes from My Homeland. My sincere thanks goes to GB Publishing and Pinar Foods UK for helping me spread the word on wholesome, delicious Turkish cuisine.
Here is the link to our interview with TRT Radio 1, I hope you enjoy it:

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23 Responses to Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir

  1. Kim October 3, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    Hi, Ozlem – my husband and I just returned from 2 weeks in Turkey. I loved the Turkish salads, especially the spicy bulgur wheat salad. I am going to try this recipe; I am wondering, though, how to make the red pepper paste. Do you have a recipe you can share? My husband and I grow our own red peppers, tomatoes, green beans and other veggies.
    Thanks, Kim Spangrude

  2. Ozlem's Turkish Table February 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    Hello Kim,

    First of all, sincere apologies as I must have missed your comment, I hope I am not too late. The red pepper paste does add a lot of flavor to salads, stews and many more, and I do have a recipe for it in my blog, under "Spices". If you grow your own veg too, that's wonderful. If it is not a spicy red pepper you grow, I suggest adding chillis to it to add some heat. I hope you find the recipe for red pepper paste useful. Please let me know if I can help out and many thanks for the comment,
    Best, Ozlem

  3. Turkey's For Life June 29, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    [Marked as spam by Antispam Bee | Spam reason: Server IP]
    You can’t NOT have kısır without the nar ekşisi. Sooo yummy isn’t it. If anything, we probably use too much of it but we just love it. A perfect summer salad, this! 🙂

    • Ozlem Warren June 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

      Merhaba Julia : ) I am a bit of a nar eksisi fan too, just love its sweet & sour taste, I am with you!:)
      Selamlar, Ozlem x

  4. Camille Ohanesian April 25, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    Love your Blog.. Check out my blog , so many delicious recipes of Turkish/ Middle Eastern food.. Also Selling Organic Olive Oil from All around the world !! Especially Turkey .. Let me know if your interested!!!

    Take a look ..



    • Ozlem Warren April 26, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      Merhaba Camille, many thanks for stopping by! very kind of you, glad you enjoy the blog – just had a look at your website, your olive oil looks wonderful 🙂
      Best wishes, Ozlem

  5. meenakshi pathak April 27, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    Nice, its Indian wheat daliya, your salad is very nice.

    • Ozlem Warren April 28, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Many thanks for stopping by Meenakshi, really enjoy seeing the similarities and variations between our cuisines, glad you enjoyed it.

  6. Rob April 17, 2015 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi Ozlem,

    Cooking (well – preparing this now!), so I can’t tell you if I like it or not yet 🙂

    When you say “green onions” do you mean spring onions?

    Thanks for another great recipe!


    • Ozlem Warren April 18, 2015 at 11:23 am #

      Merhaba Rob – yes green onions is the US terminology for spring onions – must include this one too – hope you enjoy it, afiyet olsun! Ozlem

  7. FEDERICO November 7, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    Merhaba, Hi from México city. I really love turkish food, I want to make pita bread, I tried my problem it didn´t inflate at all, why?
    Do I have to put something over surface before ovening to keep it humid and soft after cooking?
    Do you have a better recipe? mine is
    500 grms flour
    10 grs dry yeast
    250 ml warm water
    2 spoons olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon sugar


    • Ozlem Warren November 8, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

      Hi Federico,
      Thank you for your note, so glad to hear you enjoy Turkish cuisine. Puffy pide bread is something I would like to make too; once I test my recipe, I will come back to you in the next few weeks. Best wishes, Ozlem

  8. Kelley March 28, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

    I made this salad for a buffet over the weekend, and it was delicious. I used nar eksisi and the pom syrup, as I had them on hand. also used the zest from the lemon. I’ll be making this again, thanks!

    • Ozlem Warren March 29, 2016 at 2:55 pm #

      Merhaba Kelley, many thanks for your kind note, delighted to hear you enjoyed making Kisir, Spicy bulgur wheat salad – Afiyet Olsun!

  9. Elva February 9, 2017 at 12:54 am #

    Hi Ozlem!
    I just discovered your website October of last year, and have enjoyed making these recipes for my family. I am from Guatemala, but my husband is Turkish, and we have a 2 year old son whom we try to introduce to different foods. Let’s just say that my husband often comes home exclaiming, “What smells so good?” Haha.

    I do have one question on this Kisir however. For the ingredients, you list paprika flakes, and the directions say red pepper flakes; are they the same or different. I have crushed red pepper, but I don’t think I have seen paprika flakes here in the U.S. Just curious, I can always try to order online if anything.

    Thank you so much.
    Egleniz saglik

    • Ozlem Warren February 9, 2017 at 9:08 pm #

      Merhaba Elva, lovely to get your note and that you’re enjoying my recipes here, delighted to hear it : ) Thank you for pointing out, chili flakes, red pepper flakes or paprika (finer) more or less similar and can all be used, I updated my recipe too, thank you. I hope the recipes bring happy memories of home to your husband and family, afiyet olsun! Ozlem

      • Elva February 10, 2017 at 5:08 am #

        Thank you so much. It makes things a lot easier.


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