Kisir is Turkish tabouleh, traditionally made from burghul, tomatoes, capsicums (peppers) and fresh herbs. Hande Bozdoğan, the lovely founder of the Istanbul Culinary Institute, gave me her version, which is both sweet (from the beetroot) and sour (from the pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar). The pomegranate molasses used to dress this salad is very different from pomegranate juice, and far more like a thick vinegar. Do not overlook it because it has a unique sweet–sour flavour.
- 150 g (5½ oz) fine burghul (bulgur)
- 2 beetroot (beets), trimmed, cooked and peeled (see Note)
- extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 spring onion bulbs (scallions), finely chopped
- 3-4 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley sprigs, finely chopped
- 2-3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped
- pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or other chilli flakes (see Note)
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Bring 300 ml (10½ fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan, and add the burghul. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, then set aside. Purée one of the beetroot in a blender or food processor with a little olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Dice the other beetroot, and add the diced beetroot and the purée to the burghul. Next, add the spring onion, parsley, thyme, a pinch of chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt. Stir through, then add the pomegranate molasses and a little more olive oil. Stir through again, and serve cold.
• To cook beetroot, wrap them in foil and roast in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 1–1½ hours. (Insert a knife into the flesh to check whether they are done: they are cooked when they are tender and the flesh is easily pierced.) Peel once they are cool enough to handle.
• Pul biber is the Turkish term for chilli flakes. Also known as Aleppo pepper, its sweetness and heat may vary. More moist than other chilli flakes, it is made from semi-dried and deseeded chillies. Look for it in Turkish or other Middle Eastern food shops, or substitute with other chilli flakes to taste.
• Use one generous teaspoon in this recipe. Pomegranate molasses are available from Turkish or other Middle Eastern food shops, some supermarkets and online.