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Istanbul Cuisine

Kisir (Turkish spin on Tabouleh Salad)


1 1/2 cups fine bulgur

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 tbsp sweet tomato paste

1 tbsp sweet pepper paste

3-4 stalks green onion

2 medium tomatoes

3 red peppers

6 tbsp parsley

3 tbsp fresh mint

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp lemon



Place the bulgur in a large boil and add boiling water. Cover the bowl and set aside for 20 minutes until the bulgur absorbs all the water. During this time you can chop all of the vegetables and herbs.

Once the bulgur is absorbed, fluff with a fork or fingertips to remove any lumps. Add pepper and tomato pastes as well as onion, and stir until the mixture sticks together well. Mix in chopped tomatoes, pepper, parsley, mint, lemon and olive oil. Season to taste. Chill at least 30 minutes before serving. 


This recipe feeds 6 and is double adapted since we tweaked some ingredients from the original Turkish spin, which used pomegranate molasses instead of lemon, and cooking onion instead of green onion. For speciality ingredients try shopping at Jasmine Mediterranean Foods on Main & 26th or Persia Foods on Main & 49th.



2 cups wheat or barley (gluten-free option: buckwheat)

1/2 cup dried chickpeas

1/2 cup white kidney beans

1/4 cup rice

2 cups honey

6 dried figs

10 dried apricots

1 tbsp raisins

50 g each of walnuts, pistachios, almonds

zest of 1 orange


Soak wheat, chickpeas and kidney beans in different bowls overnight.

In the morning, boil chickpeas and beans separately until soft. Drain.

In a deep pot, add 3L of water to wheat and rice. Simmer for 4 hours on low heat with the lid on. 

Add the zest, chickpeas and beans with 1/2 L of water to the pot and simmer for another hour.

Add 2 cups of honey and stir slowly. Quarter the apricots and figs, add to the pot with raisins and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Garnish with walnuts, pistachios and almonds (optional: pomegranate). Serve at room temperature.


For more about aşure and its cultural significance, check out this article here.



1 litre water

1 cup honey

1 1/2 cup dried apricots

1/4 cup raw almonds (at least one for every apricot)


Soak apricots overnight. The next day, soak raw almonds in hot water until you can remove the peel. Strain apricots and stuff with the almonds. 

Add both to a pot and boil for 10 minutes. Add the honey and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve cold.


This recipe is supposed to aid digestion and is intended to drink throughout a meal. For us it was the perfect way to quench our summer thirst!


Variations: Use other dried fruits like raisins and prunes, or fresh fruit such as apple or cherry. You can find more recipes here.



Taze Fasulye (Green Beans in Olive Oil)


4 cups fresh green beans (runner beans if possible)

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 medium sized onions, chopped

2 large fresh tomatoes, peeled

2 tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

water to cover the beans


To prepare the beans, break tips off, string them and break them in half. Pour olive oil into a large pan and warm. Fry onions until soft and translucent. Chop tomatoes into small pieces and add to onions. Add beans, salt and sugar. Mix well, then pour over enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until they are tender and the sauce is reduced. Taste beans for texture.

Drizzle olive oil and serve immediately or at room temperature.

This recipe feeds 6 people and is often served alongside some yogurt, fresh salad and rice. 


Variation: You can also add lemon juice, parsley, or garlic.

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