Almost Turkish Recipes

Turkish Tabbouleh (Kısır)

Kısır is the Turkish or a different version of a Mediterranean/Arabic dish called tabbouleh. Although there are many differences between these two dishes, the main one is that the Turkish tabbouleh has tomato and pepper paste. In Turkey the recipe for kısır varies from region to region. In Adana they use more water than anywhere else or in Antakya (Hatay) they don't use water at all; they knead bulgur with tomato and pepper paste until it gets soft. However it's made, kısır is made everywhere in Turkey and is loved dearly. It is served sometimes with the afternoon tea, sometimes as a meze, and sometimes as a great summer dish you can enjoy when it's boiling hot outside.

2 cups of fıne bulgur
2 cups of hot water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp pepper paste (preferably spicy, if you cannot find pepper paste, double the tomato paste)
1/4 -1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 small onion, cut in thin half rounds
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 cucumber, finely chopped
2 sweet green peppers, finely chopped (closest thing to sweet green peppers here is shishito pepper or sweet Italians)
juice of 1 or 1/2 lemon (you have to taste and add less or more lemon juice)
2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp mint flakes or 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
a pinch of ground cumin
romain lettuce leaves

Although it's undeniably non-Turkish, I love the crunchiness of endives in my kısır. 

Some people add finely sliced or minced garlic to their kısır and some use pomegranate syrup for sourness.

-Put tomato and pepper paste in a big bowl and melt them with boiling hot water. Add bulgur and 1 tsp salt into this mix. Stir once. Cover with a thick kitchen towel and let it soak the water for 10 minutes.
-Cut the onion in half first, then into very thin half-moon shapes. In a little bowl, knead onion with 1 tsp salt. Rinse salt and squeeze excessive water.
-Fluff bulgur with a fork. Add pepper flakes, sumac, cumin, mint flakes, oil, lemon juice, and kneaded onion. Add garlic and pomegranate syrup at this stage if you will use any. Mix well. At this point taste to see if it needs more lemon juice. Kısır should be a little bit sour.
-Add banana peppers, spring onions, cucumber, and parsley. Mix well.
-If served with sliced tomatoes and lettuce leaves Kısır is delicious. We don't add tomatoes to kısır, because tomatoes make it mushy. So kısır is usually served on a lettuce bed (you can wrap some kısır in a lettuce leaf and eat like that) with slices of tomato on the side.


  1. I love kisir! My Turkish friend Fatma made it often, and since then I've been using a recipe from Claudia Roden's book Arabesque (very similar to Fatma's recipe).
    Lovely photos!

  2. I would love to try this! And I do agree that fresh parsley is the most essential component of any type of tabbouleh. It looks delicious in your photos!

  3. I love adding the hot and spicy taste to bulgur! And yes, fresh parsley is a must. (Why do they even sell dried parsley flakes?) Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  4. Greetings! This is my first time on your blog and I'm enjoying it very much. My husband and I are historical re-enactors for the 18th century and we portray displaced Turks from the Ottoman Empire who find ourselves in the service of a master shipbuilder. Part of the fun of re-enacting is trying foods from the 18th century. We've sampled many European dishes and are eager to try traditional dishes from the Ottoman Empire. Your blog is proving very helpful!

  5. Pille: I've heard of Roden's book but never had a chance to look at it. I guess I should.

    Kalyn: Thanks for the compliments. I hope you like it when your try.

    Lydia: Seriously, why do they even sell dried parsley flakes?

    Kate: I'm glad you enjoy the blog. For 18th century Ottoman recipes, you may want to see Yerasimos' book "500 Years of ottoman Cuisine." She has recipes taken from 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century manuscripts.

  6. This is so good Burcu! I'm thinking to make this to go with my grilled lamb chop this week. It will be a great combo I think.

  7. What a great dish and fabulous combo. I´ll put it on my must try list. :)

  8. Anh: it'll be great with lamb chops.

    Maria Helene: I hope you like it!

  9. Anonymous5:51 AM

    I followed this receipe this weekend and my husband who is not so keen on tabbouleh really loved kısır. So thank you very very much. I will definitely make it again!

  10. Anonymous8:14 PM

    How much is a serving of this dish? How many servings does it make?


    P.S. I made it and it is quite good! Thanks for the recipe. I know my Turkish boyfriend is going to be really excited about it.

  11. Tre- Wıth 2 cups of bulgur, this would serve 4-6 people.

  12. Anonymous2:25 AM

    hey burcu,
    i love kisir and kisir loves me! thanks for this recipe, its a litle diff to how i made it in the past, i like it more. thanks once again for this site, i refer to it daily lol


  13. Anonymous2:31 AM

    oohh i forgot to mention..i suffer from raw onion, so what i did was instead of rubing the onion slices with salt i fried them in some olive oil till they were soft. yum i love kisir!

  14. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Cracked bulgur is on of the best sources of fiber, protein and pottasium. All the added items to the kisir make it even healthier - pom sirup, olive oil, parsley, pepper, and tomato are definitely must for healthy living. I roll it into a romaine leaf like a cigar. It is a great apetizer to any meal.

  15. Burcu hanim, merhaba! Verdiginiz Kisir tarifi icin cok tesekkur ederim. Dun yaptigim Kisir Turkiye'de yedigiklerimden hic mi hic kotu degildi. Ellerinize saglik.

  16. Anonymous7:40 AM

    Great Kisir recipe. I have been looking for a good one for a long time while living here in Turkey. This one is the best by far, just the right amount of extra spice.

  17. Thank you very much for this recipe. I made it, loved it posted it.. I am a BIG lover of Turkish food & Kisir is something i never give a miss when i am visiting any turkish restaurant.. now i can make my own!

  18. Wow, this is wonderful! I was able to find pomegranate molasses a few months ago at a gourmet market, and it has the most wonderful presence in this.

    I also got ambitious over the weekend and made Turkish red pepper paste. I don't know how authentic is but it tastes wonderful! I think it really added a lot to this tabbouleh and this will be my preferred recipe from now on. I'm taking half of this over to a friend's house tomorrow and I'm sure she'll love it, too.

  19. Anonymous4:57 PM

    My aunt use to do this recipe when i visited her in Turkey but instead of putting the tabbouleh on the leaves of lettuce she used to chop up the leaves and add them to the recipe, so you would eat it with a fork. I was looking for this recipe since i didnt exaclty get it from my aunt so thank you!

    One question: The bulgur is still kinda hard after the 2 cups of hot water. What should i do? I added more water but still kinda hard.


  20. Angie-Not usually, but sometimes bulgur might vary in its need for water like rice. Especially if you're using coarse bulgur. You can keep adding hot water and let it sit for 10-15 minutes, I guess, until it gets soft. Kisir is best when it's made with fine bulgur which would cause less or no problems.

  21. Anonymous6:21 PM


    Just wanted to say thankyou for this recipe. Fantastic recipe.

  22. thanks for this recipe. I had this when I lived in Istanbul at Ciya and it was amazing, yet we haven't been able to find another place as good in London until we visit Antepelier on Green Lanes last week. What a find! I totally recommend it if you're ever in London. Your space here is great by the way...!

  23. Very delicious, thank you! I did triple the tomato paste and lemon juice though, it didn't look as red or tangy as I'm used to otherwise. I'm from izmir, maybe that' s how we do it, I am not sure. I have difficulty finding red pepper paste though. Even middle eastern shops, they do not carry it. Do you order yours online?

  24. Thanks for your recipe on Kisir! Have eaten this dish many of times, as most of my friends are Turkish. Now I got to make it at home for myself. I did some changes and added an extra tablespoon of both the pepper and tomato paste, added 1/2 cup of red cabbage and diced cucumbers. Left out the banana peppers, and only added 1/2 tsp of chili flakes. Other than that, this dish is great.. its colorful and full of flavour. Thanks again!

  25. Did you recently change this recipe slightly? Do you have the older version too?

    1. The recipe is the same. I changed the picture.