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Tag Archives | pomegranate molasses

Olive Salad with Pomegranate Molasses and Za-atar; Zeytin Ufeleme


Here are some wonderful photos of a typical Turkish fruit and vegetable market, Pazar. Getting the fresh veg and fruit from the markets are a big part of Turkish cooking and this is our local market walking distance to my parents’ home in Istanbul. The abundance of different types of fruit and vegetables, wonderful displays of fruits, nuts, olives, cheese and spices are simply mesmerising, and the vegetables available at that time would dictate the meals of the day. Wonderful to watch the market and wonderful to pick your fruit and veg; I can spend a whole day there!

Zeytin Ufeleme – Olive Salad with vegetables, pomegranate molasses and zahtar (za’atar)

Zeytin Ufeleme – Olive Salad with vegetables, pomegranate molasses and zahtar (za’atar)

Zeytin Ufeleme – Olive Salad with vegetables, pomegranate molasses and zahtar (za’atar)

We Turks eat olives throughout the day; the Turkish breakfast starts with olive, cheese, sliced tomato and cucumber accompanied with bread. We also enjoy olives as a meze for lunch or in the evening. Olive trees are grown all across the Aegean and Mediterranean coast of Turkey, in colorful shades of black, green, brown and black; they are absolutely to die for!

This very simple yet delicious meze features my home town Antakya’s pomegranate molasses as a dressing. We would enjoy it as part of our Turkish brunch at the weekends or in the evening as a meze. To make a fruit molasses, the juice is extracted from the fruit before it is boiled and reduced to create a dark, fruity syrup. It is rich, tangy and full of flavor. Most middle eastern and specialty shops carry pomegranate molasses; here’s my home made pomegranate molasses recipe, if you’d like to make at home. If you can’t find it, you can substitute with a sharp balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  The fresh herb zahter or za’atar, zahtar, is also commonly added to this salad in Antakya region. Fresh Zahtar looks more like summer savory, or a crossing of marjoram, oregano and thyme, and adds a wonderful, pungent flavor to the salads.

Serves 4     Preparation time: 15 minutes

1/5 of an onion or 1 green (spring) onion, finely chopped
A handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh zahtar (za’atar), if available or 1 tbsp. dried za’atar
90 ml/ 6 tablespoon green and black olives, pitted
2 medium tomatoes, finely diced
45 ml/ 3 tablespoons olive oil
15 ml/1tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar)
Salt and ground black pepper

Pita bread serve

Place the diced onions in a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt. Work the salt in onions with your hands – this will soften the onions and make it more palatable. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss thoroughly.

Serve with slices of pita bread by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,


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Bulgur and Lentil Patties – Mercimekli Bulgur Kofte

Bulgur and lentil patties, mercimekli, bulgurlu kofte; wholesome - try next to pomegranate molasses & olive oil dipping sauce, delicious.

Bulgur and lentil patties, mercimekli, bulgurlu kofte; wholesome – try next to pomegranate molasses & olive oil dipping sauce, delicious.

This is a delicious and healthy vegetarian recipe that you can serve as an appetizer; it would be a great party dish to accompany roasted vegetables and meat too. You can serve it wrapped in lettuce leaves, and it is delicious when dipped in a mixture of extra virgin olive oil & pomegranate molasses (sharp balsamic vinegar would be a good replacement if you cannot find pomegranate molasses). Middle Eastern and most specialty food stores carry pomegranate molasses and the online Turkish stores Tulumba and Best Turkish Food carries a wide range of Turkish ingredients.  For the Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi, you can make your own if you like, here is my Turkish hot pepper paste recipe.

We lived in the southeast part of Turkey, in a town called Elazig for 8 years during my childhood. It is an amazing part of the world, next door to the fascinating Mount Ararat (the highest mountain in Turkey, where Noah’s Ark is believed to have landed and a cradle of early civilization dating back to the early bronze age. I remember the locals being very warm and friendly; happy to share their food and open their doors to new comers. This recipe is from Southeast part of Turkey (and there are many regional variations), one of the local specialties Mum learned from the locals and passed to us. I hope you enjoy it and make it there one day!

You can also add a few finely chopped green onions (spring onions) and a handful of chopped parsley to the bulgur & lentil patties mixture before shaping into balls, they go well together.

Serves 4-6

Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking time: 35 – 40 minutes

175 gr/6 oz/ 3/4 cup red lentils
225 gr/8 oz/ generous 1 cup coarse bulgur wheat
1 medium onion, finely chopped
15 ml / 1 tablespoon red pepper paste or chili paste (if not available, replace with 10 ml / 2 teaspoon tomato paste and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes)

15ml/1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ml / 2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
30 ml / 2 tablespoon olive oil
240 ml / 8 fl oz/ 1 cup hot water (for lentils)
120 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup hot water (for bulgur)

Small bowl of water to shape the balls

For the dipping sauce:
120 ml / 4 fl oz / 1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
30 ml / 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Small lettuce leaves to serve

Place the red lentils in a saucepan and add the hot water. Bring it to boil, half covered. Then lower the heat and let the lentils simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat off. Add the bulgur, its hot water, red pepper paste, olive oil, salt and cumin, mix well. Let the mixture sit and absorb the water for about 15 minutes until all the moisture is absorbed and the mixture is of dry consistency (when turning the heat off, the bulgur will become softer though retaining its “al dente”,  texture with a bite). Mix well occasionally to blend the flavors.

Sauté the onions in olive oil and cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they turn a golden color. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

Combine the sautéed onions with the lentil and bulgur mixture in a large bowl. Take about a walnut size of the mixture into your hands and with wet hands, shape it as patties. Place them on a wide serving tray with lettuce leaves by the side to wrap.

For the dipping sauce; mix the pomegranate molasses and the extra virgin olive oil, place in a small dipping bowl.

Serve the bulgur and lentil patties with the lettuce leaves and the dipping sauce by the side.

Afiyet Olsun,


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Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad with pomegranate molasses – Kisir



Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with tomatoes, onions, olive oil and pomegranate molasses; a delicious bowl of health

My good friend Kate came over and we made Kisir today; it was lovely to cook with a friend and share the food. Kate is such a foodie and it is amazing to see how the food connects people no matter where we come from, a universal language. 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. 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 syrup) 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.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 25 minutes

2 cups coarse bulgur wheat
2 cups hot water
15ml/1 tablespoon tomato paste
15ml/1 tablespoon red pepper paste (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika, chili flakes or red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon concentrated sour pomegranate sauce
45ml/3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
Handful of finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
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 syrup together with the extra virgin olive oil and knead well again. Stir in the remaining ingredients and combine thoroughly.

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

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Kisir; bulgur wheat salad with vegetables, olive oil and pomegranate molasses

Note: Bulgur wheat unlike cracked wheat, is a grain made from the cooked wheat berries which have the bran removed, and are then dried and pounded. There are two varieties generally available, fine and coarse. If you can get the fine bulgur wheat, use 1/2 cup water for 1 cup fine bulgur wheat.

Afiyet Olsun,


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