|kisir: bulgar wheat salad|
A Turkish bakery and deli near where I used to work has a lunchtime offer of five different middle eastern salads. As I feast my eyes at the counter crammed with mesmerising choices, I regress to childhood; I am like the kid in the proverbial sweetshop. So much choice and only five options. Decisions, decisions!
The two salads that you can usually guarantee I will choose as a foundation for my salad lunchbox, are cacik, a salad of yoghurt, cucumber, dill and mint (very similar to Greek tzatziki) and kisir, a glorious combination of nutty bulgar wheat, crunchy vegetables, herbs and spices.
Kisir is both delicious and healthy and any leftovers make the perfect lunchbox meal to take to work, with pitta bread and crisp lettuce to scoop up every tasty morsel. Don't be put off by the long list of ingredients; it is really worth the effort!
There are lots of different recipes for kisir, but my favourite recipe is this version, adapted from the Sofra cookbook by Hüseyin Özer, owner of the Sofra and Özer restaurants.
Skill level: Easy
225g bulgar wheat
boiling water (or vegetable or chicken stock)
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
80g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1 x bunch of spring onions, chopped (include some of the green parts)
½ Spanish (sweet) or red onion, finely chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ orange pepper, chopped
5 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
4 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
175ml olive oil
5 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp crushed chillies
1 tbsp paprika
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground white pepper
140-200ml tomato juice (or 1 tbsp tomato Purée)
tomatoes, to serve
cos or little gem lettuce, to serve
pitta bread, to serve
- Add boiling water (or stock) to reach about 1cm above the level of the bulgar wheat. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for about 15 minutes until the bulgar wheat has absorbed much of the liquid but still has a slight bite to it (as it will be asorb the dressing later). I tend to use twice as much water to bulgar wheat, so for example if I use 1 cup of bulgar wheat, then I will use 2 cups of water.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together (olive oil, lemon juice, some tomato juice, chilli, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.
- Prepare the nuts and vegetables.
- If the bulgar wheat hasn't absorbed all the water, then drain it and squeeze out any excess liquid (as you want it to absorb the dressing).
- Stir in the nuts, vegetables and dressing into the bulgar wheat and set aside for about 20 minutes to allow the flavours to get to know each other.
- Adjust the seasoning and add more tomato juice if the mixture seems too dry.
- Stir in the fresh herbs and wait 10 minutes before serving, with sliced baby plum tomatoes, lettuce and pitta bread.
- Replace the bulgar wheat with couscous.