Out of all the autumn fruit, pomegranate is the one that wins me over. There is a little special bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate at its heart: kisir.
There is something about pomegranate that makes it so, so special to me. It might be that this year the pomegranate tree at my parents garden was full of flowers ready to form fruits before I left. It’s a signal of the new year for Greeks and a good omen, one of prosperity and abundance. We break a pomegranate at our front door and the more mess it makes the better as it will bring good luck on the New Year. Its ruby colour have branded it a festive fruit but truth is, by January, what you get is the end of their crop and it’s from October until December that you will find the seeds at their sweetest and juiciest.
Pomegranate molasses are not ubiquitous in Greece. In our kitchen, they sneak in through my grandma Dina, coming from Smyrna, she introduced all wonderful things Middle-Eastern to the household. They would serve as a marinate for poultry or lamb.
So what is kisir?
It is a bulgur wheat salad found in Kurdish and Turkish cuisine and as these dishes travel a lot, I am certain it has found its place in all the eastern Mediterranean basin. Over here, we have Ottolenghi to thank for making it popular. For me, it was my friend Arda who suggested it to me when he saw me topping my roasted pumpkin. The idea of having more pomegranates was enough to make me jump to it.
It’s a very simple salad in its principle, hardly any cooking required. Its dressing is what makes it so special. It has pomegranate molasses at its core and you can adapt its spiciness with paprika or chilli. It depends on how spicy or smoky you like it. The wholesomeness of bulgur wheat, the sharp pomegranate molasses, the juices of cherry tomatoes and herby mint make it a really special bowl of goodness.
Bulgur wheat salad with pomegranate molasses, Kisir
- 200 g fine bulgur wheat
- 180 ml/ hot water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes or smoked paprika
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 9-10 cherry tomatoes
- 7-9 springs of roughly chopped mint
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 green chilli optional
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan and sauté the onion, just so you take off the raw edge. Add the paprika or chilli flakes and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato purée and 180 ml boiling water.
- Follow in with the bulgur wheat, season with salt and a bit of pepper and give it a good stir.
- Remove from the heat, cover and let it sit for about 15 mins. The bulgur wheat will have absorbed the warm water by now.
- Fork the grains, add the tomatoes, roughly chopped mint and the pomegranate seeds.
- For the dressing, mix together the pomegranate molasses and olive oil, pour over the salad and mix well.
- If you are using chillies, you can add some finely sliced ones one top as garnish as well.
- You can leave it at room temperature for a few hours or place in the fridge but allow some time so that it comes to room temperature before serving
You can have it on its own as lunch as, it is quite filling. Alternatively, as a side salad, it will accompany meat dishes very nicely.
Do you love pomegranate? let me know in the comments below.
From London with love,