A visit to Istanbul, Turkey is like falling in love, like an invasion of all 5 senses (however, if you have more senses, consider them gone too). The color, the vibrance, the buzz and the grandeur of the city are all intoxicating. Spread over two continents this city boasts of enchanting Islamic history, cosmopolitan lifestyle, eclectic cafes, absolutely brilliant gastro treats, scrumptious street snacks and not to mention crowded, blocked roads, fair freckled flirtatious men, angry cab drivers, courteous servers at restaurants – oh I could go on and on!
Having eaten some of their local food (had some great sushi too by the way) I fell in love with their simple yet truly delicious mezze platters. Drawing influences from both the east and west Turkish cuisine is primarily Mediterranean, with ample usage of Greek olive oil, fresh sea food, home grown spices and fruits, freshly baked bread, grain salads, thick creamy yogurts and tender shreds of lamb and chicken.
The dish that I am featuring today is the Turkish version of the Arabic Mezze, Taboulleh called Kisir. Kisir is made from either bulgur or couscous grain and it can be used as a side dish to your lamb roast, an appetizer before your mains or a complete meal in itself on a pesky summer afternoon. Once made correctly, you can add anything to the fluffed grain, however tomato paste is a staple, primarily for the color and slight tartness to the dish. A typically authentic Kisir would also have a tablespoon or so of pomegranate molasses, since I did not have access to that I used balsamic vinegar instead. I added some chopped red onions, tomatoes, and fresh parsley (which I think is essential for its peppery kick and sensuous aroma).
Kisir is often served with freshly baked bread however I decided to serve it with fresh crisp lettuce, which plays well against the bread guilt.