Istanbul Kisiri: For When It's Too Hot to Cook

Istanbul Kisiri.jpg

Summer is seemingly never-ending. Sunshine and gentle heat may, at some point, have been a treat, but that time has come and gone. We shared our frustrations with rising temperatures by sharing how it is that we keep cool earlier this summer, but now, as things have gotten worse, we're doing one more thing we didn't mention then: trying not to turn on our ovens. 

Though I've learned to appreciate summer over the past few years, it's become a difficult time to live through in Geneva. I started spending my summers in Switzerland in the early 2000s, and back then, most summers would be nice and cool – a nice escape from humid Chicago summers. Now, heat wave follows heat wave, and we can barely bear the thought of cooking. Unfortunately for us, we don't have much of a choice as most restaurants shut down for their summer holidays. Consequently, we make cold meals whenever we can, either turning to Mediterranean dishes or making lots of guacamole.

My grandmother shared one family favorite on The Attic last summer – a cold cucumber, yogurt soup known as cacik. Another is a bulgur salad known as "Istanbul kisiri." It's a perfect alternative to the quinoa salads you find everywhere and is more substantial than your standard Greek salad. And as a bonus, it's vegan! 

To make it, you need: 

  • 2 cups of bulgur wheat

  • 4 green onions

  • 2 green or red peppers

  • 1 cucumber

  • 2 tomatoes

  • 1 bunch of parsley and/or mint

  • 1 tablespoon of tomato or pepper paste

  • 1/2 cup olive oil (start with less if you prefer and build up to taste!)

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • salt to taste

You don't need to cook anything on the stove to make this salad, but you need to begin by soaking your bulgur to soften it. To do this, put the bulgur in a large bowl and pour boiling water until the bulgur is covered and surpassed by half an inch (a little more if you like your bulgur soft). Cover and leave to soak for 10-20 minutes. Stir and allow to cool. 

Once the bulgur has cooled, stir in tomato paste. Chop up and stir in the green onions, cucumber, peppers, and tomatoes. Pour the lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and olive oil over the salad. Season with salt, pepper, and the red pepper flakes. 

Istanbul Kisiri close up.jpg

And that's it! Serve either as a main dish or a side and garnish with the parsley and/or mint leaves! 

Istanbul Kisiri 2.jpg