Kısır: fine bulgur salad, very quick and healthy (Turkish style tabulè)
Time: preparation 20 minutes
(+time for soaking of bulgur)
Yield: for 2 servings
It is written Bulgur and yet it is still read as “that thing that looks like Cous Cous, but it is not”. In fact, confusing them is so easy. They are similar in everything: color, size, texture… except that while Cous Cous is a kind of pasta, Bulgur instead is a true masterpiece.
Created from high quality whole durum wheat, cooked by steaming, then dried and finally ground. Even the bulgur is dehulled, but this process only affects the surface of the grain, not the bran: this gives the bulgur the award of being “natural born wholemeal”! It is therefore much richer, than its competitor cous-cous, in terms of minerals (potassium, iron and zinc), and dietary fiber – more than 3 times. Bulgur has an even lower glycemic index, which makes it very popular and appreciated by people suffering from diabetes or metabolic diseases. The dishes made with bulgur are very versatile and easy to prepare, as it is pre-cooked. Depending on the grinding, the size of the grains and consequently the uses change. The large ones are suitable for making pilav or salads; the small ones are irreplaceable in some very characteristic recipes: çiğ köfte (raw meatballs – actually made with raw meat), red lentilballs (with lots of onion, tomato and cumin), içli köfte (meatballs with minced meat and nuts); also in various soups with the addition of yogurt, tomato or lemon, or in the kısır recipe that I want to share with you today. Which differs from tabulè in color and for some key ingredients: the addition of pomegranate molasses and tomato paste make this dish more red color and more sweet and sour taste. Since the seasonality of the ingredients is summer, it would be appropriate to prepare fine bulgur salad recipe in the warm months. Let’s see what you need:
1 bowl of fine and brown bulgur
1 bowl of hot water
2-3 ripe tomatoes, cut into cubes
2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2-3 fresh spring onions, washed, dried and cut into slices
1 cucumber, diced
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses
The juice of half a lemon
Salt, pepper, paprika (if desired)
a head of lettuce to go with your bites
I recommend soaking the bulgur with hot water to make the beans expand: 20-30 minutes would be enough. However, considering that it will take you about 20 minutes to wash and cut the vegetables and herbs in the recipe, I would recommend starting the preparation at least 1 hour before the meal. The kısır should be eaten fresh, so if it still appears hot, you can put the soaked bulgur in the fridge for about 20 minutes, before mixing it with the chopped vegetables. Once the soaking/expanding time has passed, start working it with tomato paste, salt and pepper; let all the grains absorb it so that they become a nice dark red; you should also use paprika (if you want to obtain only taste and color, be wise and don’t use the hot peppers) to intensify its tone and flavor. (Considering that the original Turkish recipe also includes the use of pepper concentrate, and since outside of Turkic its availability is almost impossible, I replace it with the addition of paprika). Once you obtain a homogeneous color, you can add the vegetables, which will make bulgur become the beloved kısır. Finally, add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses: this last one will be the final touch. Each ingredient on the list serves to create a unique and special combination of taste: if even one ingredient is missing, the result will always be good, but simply incomplete
Traditionally, to make kısır (fine bulgur salad), they don’t use hot water, but it is cooked with the friction of the hands and warm water. It takes trained muscles, space and time (both for preparation and subsequent cleaning). The grains remain more al dente, and in theory do not cause the swelling effect, which is inevitable in my opinion, as the goodness of the dish will surely make you exaggerate with the portions. And traditionally, it should be “irrigated” abundantly with good extra virgin olive oil: instead of measuring and limiting the quantity to a few spoons, as I recommend. So if you take care to your shape, I advise you not to exaggerate with the oil, as it is truly delicious even with little!
We have already said that it was originally a summer dish, since once upon a time greenhouses did not exist. So resist the urge, and wait until the summer to enjoy this delight: that is, when all the protagonists will have their own flavor, ripeness, nutrient content at the peak, and pesticide and fertilizer content at a minimum. Automatically it becomes an effective dish in fighting the heat of the sun. Beware, however, to consume it within 24 hours: all the chopped vegetables when in contact with salt, release their liquids, and this may make kısır not very desirable, but more importantly, their vitamin levels will be reduced to a minimum. Leftovers should be kept in fridge, to reduce bacterial growth. Use fresh lettuce leaves to serve: the softness of kısır, combined with the crunchiness of the lettuce, creates a special, very happy and appreciated combination.
Yes, we should encourage the presence of such foods on our tables. Rich in nutrients, budget friendly, satiating and satisfying with colors and flavors; and, accessible in every part of the world, they come to the aid of all the working class who do not have time or opportunity to dedicate hours in cooking, given the little effort required and no biblical time to prepare them.
Enjoy your meal and good revolution to all