Turkish Kisir in Berlin

picture1012Home to approximately 200,000 people of Turkish descent, Berlin boasts the largest Turkish settlement outside of Turkey.  This makes it pretty darn easy to find excellent Turkish food here!  Enter Kisir, a zippy, spicy bulghur wheat salad which makes either a fine accompaniment to a hearty Turkish meat dish or an equally fine vegetarian meal all on its own.  People who are unfamiliar with Kisir may be familiar instead with its cousin, Tabbouleh.  If Tabbouleh (very common throughout Arab food cultures) took a vacation to Asia Minor and basked in a few hot peppers along the way, it would become Kisir.  Sound delicious?  It is!

Kisir is also wildly nutritious, and the reason why might surprise you.  Oh sure, a cup of dry bulghur wheat contains a full day’s worth of dietary fiber and a whopping 17 grams of protein.  The real surprise, however, lies in the herbs.  That’s right – the parsley, cilantro, and mint which are too often dismissed as garnish.  Did you know, for example, that one-half cup of parsley contains over 100% of the Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin C, and over 1000% of the RDA for Vitamin K?  Well, now you do!

picture1008Ingredients (makes 4 side dish servings)

1 cup bulghur wheat

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon spicy chili paste, such as Nam Prik Pao

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup curly parsley, chopped

Juice from one lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt


Step 1) Combine bulghur wheat, boiling water, and spicy chili paste in a pot with a tight fitting lid.  Cover and let sit for 15 minutes.

Step 2) While you wait, chop vegetables and herbs.  Also, squeeze juice from lemon into a small cup, being careful to remove seeds.

Step 3) After 15 minutes, remove lid from pot and fluff bulghur wheat with a fork.  Gently stir in all remaining ingredients.

Step 4) This dish may be enjoyed immediately at room temperature, or (my preference) may be refrigerated for several hours until it’s nice and cold.  Serve alone in small dishes, atop lettuce leaves, and/or with pita wedges.  I enjoy a dollop of cucumber yogurt with this dish; it may not be a strictly traditional accompaniment, but the cucumber yogurt helps to cut the heat from the chili paste.  Enjoy!



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