Looking to learn how to make the best Kisir recipe?
This quick & easy Turkish Kisir recipe is my family’s favourite vegan Middle Eastern salad.
Our healthy Kisir recipe features bulgur wheat, pomegranate molasses, paprika, lemon juice, scallions, tomatoes and parsley.
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What Is Turkish Kisir Salad?
Kisir is a specialty in the southeast of Turkey, from where the country’s spicier dishes hail. It is traditionally offered as a welcome to the guests in the homes of Antakya 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 or a mixture of both when making Kisir in northwest Turkey. It can be rolled into balls and served nestling in crunchy lettuce leaves or scooped onto a plate like an appetizer salad.
The vegan Turkish dish is perfect for buffets or as part of a barbecue spread. It’s all about being that “bowl of healthy and goodness,” featuring fresh vegetables, bulgur – packed with fiber and pomegranate sauce, full of antioxidants.
Traditional recipes typically feature finely ground bulgur wheat, parsley and tomato paste. Common additional ingredients (depending on region or family tradition), include onion, garlic, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, lemon juice, cucumber and fragrant Middle Eastern spices.
The Turkish Salad is reddish in colour due thanks to tomato paste and is served at room temperature as a side dish or meze appetizer.
How Is Kisir Different From Tabbouleh?
If you review our Kisir recipe you’ll likely recognize many ingredients that are typically used to prepare Middle Eastern Tabbouleh. There are two main differences between the popular vegan salads:
- Kisir has a much thicker dressing thanks to the addition of tomato paste and tangy pomegranate molasses.
- Tabbouleh is traditionally a very herb-sense salad (my friend often jokes it’s like eating whole bunches of parsley from the garden). Kisir has a smaller ratio of herbs, cucumber and tomato to bulgur wheat. So Kisir is definitely more hearty.
What Is Bulgur Wheat?
Bulgur Wheat, also known as burghul, is a cereal made from the cracked groats of several different wheat species, most commonly durum wheat.
Bulgur is often mistaken for cracked wheat, which is a crushed wheat grain that, unlike bulgur wheat, has not been parboiled. Bulgur is common in Middle Eastern cuisine and has a light and nutty flavour.
Bulgur is available in a range of grinds, including fine, medium, coarse and extra course. The highest quality bulgur wheat features particles that are uniform in size.
Bulgur does not require cooking. Simply soak the grain in water and it absorbs and puffs up, often double in size.
Travel to Turkey by Making Our Kisir Recipe at Home
I love traveling to the Middle East and North Africa.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.
I ate Kisir with flat bread at a traditional Moroccan riad, Turkish take covered in fresh herbs in Istanbul and Bodrum, memorable late night feast at the luxurious Four Seasons in Amman, tahini drizzled vegetarian lunch in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and a Middle Eastern salad buffet in the Dubai desert while belly dancers twirled under the night sky.
My most romantic memories eating Turkish Bulgur Salad were at celebratory Kisir barbecue feasts in the cave town of Goreme, beach break in Bodrum, ancient city of Ephesus and a culinary walking tour of Istanbul.
Where To Eat An Authentic Turkish Bulgur Salad
Haven’t traveled to the Middle East before? It may be helpful to first sample Turkish Bulgur Salad at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the desired dice of vegetables and intensity of spices fresh herbs and lemon pomegranate vinaigrette. You’ll also find inspiration on what to pair with your Kisir recipe, such as creamy dips, flat bread, grilled seafood and spiced roast meat.
In Toronto, popular Middle Eastern restaurants that may offer healthy vegan Turkish Bulgur Salad include Parallel, Byblos, Tabule, Fat Pasha, Maha’s, Masrawy Kitchen, Paramount Fine Foods, Anatolia, Barans, Meat Point, Sofra Istanbul and Pizza Pide.
My Family Loves Turkish Kisir Salad
When my family moved to Oakville the first restaurant we visited was a local Middle Eastern restaurant called Agabi. Ranked as one of the best restaurants in Oakville, Agabi, became our family’s go-to Middle Eastern take out joint.
We’ve been eating at Agabi for years and have tasted almost every dish on the menu. Each member of my family has discovered a favourite dish, that we always seem to consistently order.
My father loves the Creamy Chicken, muddled with mushrooms and onions. My mother is a fan of the Lamb Shashlik, grilled to perfection with green pepper and mushroom. My sister always orders the Chicken Pineapple, marinated boneless chicken served with crispy bacon and juicy pineapple. I’ve always had a heart for Agabi’s signature Chicken Shawarma Plate, best served alongside the chef’s spicy Kisir recipe, aromatic rice and creamy garlic sauce.
After discovering the perfect Kisir recipe at Agabi, my family would always seek out the next best thing. We’ve traveled to Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and beyond…always keen to experience a new and fresh take on the healthy vegan Turkish Bulgur Salad.
Kisir Recipe Tips
It’s quick & easy to make a fresh and healthy homemade Kisir recipe in your kitchen.
In order to make the best Kisir recipe we suggest finding the freshest, in-season vegetables at your local grocery store or farmers market. There’s nothing better than biting into a ripe and juicy tomato or sweet pomegranate seeds.
We suggest slicing the vegetables uniformly, using a sharp French knife to achieve a small dice. We don’t like big chunky vegetables in our Turkish Kisir Salad. If you can slice small cubes of tomato, onion and pepper, the salad will appear like a finely minced salsa.
You can make your own signature Turkish Bulgur Salad by tweaking the portions of each ingredient. If you really love parsley and want to enjoy a more herbaceous flavour profile, feel free to add 2 cups of the fresh herb. If you enjoy spicy dishes, double or triple the freshly sliced Jalapeno Peppers for an additional kick.
If you’re looking to add protein and healthy fat to your Turkish salad, we suggest topping the Kisir with Turkish cheese, olives, boiled egg, tuna, chicken shawarma or beef kebab.
We love to double this recipe so we can enjoy leftovers that linger in the fridge for up to 3 days. Overnight, the diced vegetables marinate in the vinaigrette and paprika, offering a perfect salad for breakfast or lunch.
What To Serve With Turkish Bulgur Salad
Visit a new Middle Eastern restaurant each week and you’ll find each chef serves their own signature Turkish Bulugur Salad recipe.
At breakfast we love to serve Kisir with poached or fried eggs and grilled flatbread like pita.
For lunch or dinner, the vegan bulgur salad is a healthy accompaniment to Middle Eastern dips, falafels, shawarma, kebab, pide, barbecued seafood and kibbeh.
If you’re hosting a large dinner party we suggest serving a Turkish buffet, rather than building an individual plate for each of your guests. We find folks love a DIY culinary challenge and it’s especially fun for families with kids.
Set your kitchen counter up with bowls of pickles, olives, creamy dips, grilled meat, barbecued seafood, freshly baked pide and a large bowl of spicy Kisir. Each guest can create their very own Turkish Bulugur Salad bowl from the platter you masterfully create!
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Best Turkish Salad Kisir Recipe
Turkish Kisir Salad Recipe
- mixing bowl
- French knife
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- 350 g Bulgur Wheat
- 250 ml Hot water
- 1 tbsp Tomato paste
- 1 Jalapeno pepper finely chopped
- 1 tsp Smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp Lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Pomegranate molasses
- 3 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 4 Scallions/Green Onions finely chopped
- 4 Tomatoes finely chopped
- 1 cup Parsley finely chopped
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
- 3 tbsp Pomegranate seeds
- Mix the bulgur wheat, salt, ground black pepper, paprika, tomato paste, jalapeno pepper and the chopped onion in a large mixing bowl.
- Pour hot water over the mixture and stir, then leave to stand for about 15 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.
- Add fresh lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, olive oil and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients and fully combine.
- Serve Turkish Kisir in a salad bowl garnished with pomegranate seeds.
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