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Kisir with walnuts

May 27, 2011

Ottolenghi recipes have been on my to do list for ages – I’ve been fawning about how awesome they would be…and never actually making any of them, until now. This kisir (which is apparently a Turkish dish with the core ingredients being bulgur*, tomato and parsley) has egged me on to try more of the exciting recipes on the blog, and eventually when I save up enough, one of the books.

*I got mine at Liberty Market who sell it in bulk, but Piko also sell it. EDIT: Actually I saw some at the supermarket in the bulk aisle too! It’s about $5-6 per kilo, which isn’t bad considering it’s quite good for you and also super quick to cook (a bit like couscous). I was worried it would be too hard but it has a really nice texture – not as soft as cous cous, and a bit chewier but in a nice way.

This is maaaybe because the recipes I’ve been looking at have a bajillion ingredients in them. Not just lots, but I mean…pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses? In the end I just shrugged and made a simplified version of Ottolenghi’s kisir, something which I can happily switch up a little with things I have lying around. It still exceeded my fawning expectations too! Past experiences with pomegranate molasses were delicious but exceptionally fruit. This managed not to let any of the otherwise domineering flavours elbow everyone out of the way. They all played together lovely: savoury and rich with a hint of fruitiness and a warmth from the cumin and depth provided by two simple herbs (spring onions and parsley). Now I really want Plenty.

This dish really defied a lot of things I thought I knew about making tastiness happen. Usually I always brown my onions, but their slight crunchiness here were perfect. I did not think bulgur would cook like couscous, but it basically does, and does a wonderful job of soaking up the flavours here. To replace the pomegranate seeds I added some walnuts for extra richness and crunch, and they worked really nicely in this. However I feel I have even more faith in Ottolenghi’s recipes now, so feel free to go by the original. Consider this the slightly pared back version if you like, when you want luxury and lightness and flavour…but on a weeknight. Plus the walnuts make this much a complete meal. Any other ideas about what to switch in? I’m thinking olives could be yummy, or lightly browned and still crunchy cauliflower.

Kisir with walnuts

serves 2 for dinner on its own, or 4 as a side – the bulgur expands like nobody’s business!

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • a few Tbs cooking oil
  • around 300ml tomato passata or puree, or 1 T tomato puree + 2 chopped tomatoes
  • 60ml water
  • 200g fine bulgur (about the size of couscous)
  • just under 1 Tbs pomegranate molasses
  • juice of half a lemon
  • chopped fresh parsley, spring onions and mint (I didn’t have mint)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (if you like cumin you can up this amount a little)
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling/serving – you can really taste this in a good way, so it’s worth using here
  • two handfuls or walnuts (you could also use toasted pine nuts…this is probably where you can experiment with different additions)
Cook onions in cooking oil on medium heat until translucent but not brown. Add tomato, let cook for a minute (longer if using fresh tomatoes, you need to let the fall apart a bit) and add water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and stir in everything except the walnuts and some fresh herbs for garnishing later. Taste, and add more salt if necessary. Cover and let sit until warm or room temperature, then top with walnuts, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and season with more pepper. Sprinkle over fresh herbs and serve!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 28, 2011 12:47 am


    If you scroll down to the end of this post, written by my niece in law you will find some interesting info about pomegranate Molasses, well I hope you will find it interesting!

  2. May 28, 2011 12:35 pm

    R: Amaaazing blog! Thank you for the heads up! I’ve only seen two brands of pomegranate molasses in Christchurch…interested in making my own now.

  3. May 28, 2011 4:52 pm

    This looks amazing Zo. I’ll give it a try, but fill it out with lots of parsley — which is threatening to take over the whole back yard at the moment. I’m thinking of it as a tabbouleh with bells on. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. May 29, 2011 12:07 pm

    F: Lend me some parsley? Mine can’t keep up with my prolific usage! Which I never thought would happen >.<

  5. May 29, 2011 2:15 pm

    Never used pomegranate molasses, but rarely use molasses anyway, rarely use sugary things in my savoury food in fact, unless it is really really really necessary (or I would eat too much)! This looks perfect as it is!

    btw, I added you to my NZ blog roll, feel free to do the same (if you like the blog, that is!).


  6. May 29, 2011 2:31 pm

    A: Haha, fair enough. I tried it without and it still tasted good, just in a different way, so feel free to play around with it. Also have added you to the blogroll, I was surprised when you weren’t there sorry!

  7. Anja permalink
    May 29, 2011 3:22 pm

    Hi Zo,
    I stumbled upon your blog while I was googling “honey cake”, haha. It lead me to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon going through your blog for ideas, and after a while it clicked – I know you sort of???? We used to be friends on LJ (I was plugin_baby) and I think you went to school with my Serbian friend Ivana. I hope this isn’t creepy, but it is a small city we live in!
    Anyway I really like your blog and am getting lots of inspiration! I love to cook also (hence being happy reading food blogs all day and night) and it’s great that you explain where to get some of the more difficult to find ingredients.

  8. May 29, 2011 4:08 pm

    A: Wow high school and LJ is a bit of a blur, but I definitely remember Ivana and your LJ name! Yay for the interwebs! You should totally join the potluck club! The facebook group is here:

    We’re having a tea party on Sunday you should come to :)

  9. Anja permalink
    May 29, 2011 4:35 pm

    Aw I’m working next Sunday but I’d love to come along to another event. Do I have to be a student to join? Do you all know each other in the club? I’m worried I’d come and feel strange not knowing anyone!

  10. May 29, 2011 7:05 pm

    I love Ottolenghi’s recipes and have both books, just bought Plenty from Amazon UK for £16 and freight free to NZ! Not sure how long the are offering freight free even when you have to ay freight it works out half price

  11. May 30, 2011 1:42 am

    Works for me – healthy and delicious. I am a big fan of Ottolenghi’s recipes and incidentally (or was that accidentally) own two copies of Plenty. If you are ever in London I strongly recommend going to one of his restaurants (there are 4 so many to choose from).

  12. May 30, 2011 9:40 am

    An: Naw, most people don’t really know eachother or have only met once. Would love to see you at a potluck though!

    Al: Really?! Must look into that, last time I checked shipping was £7. Cheers for the heads up!

    L: Hmmm…interested in selling one of those copies? Hehe. Trust me if I’m ever in London it will be one of my first stops if I can help it!

  13. May 30, 2011 8:56 pm

    This looks like my kind of dish! Beautiful photos – I’m hungry now! I will be making this soon.

  14. May 31, 2011 7:52 am

    Definitely browned cauliflower! Although this looks gorgeous enough as it is – I love bulgur wheat especially because, as you say, it’s practically as fast as couscous.
    I pined after Plenty for ages and ages, now that I’ve got it I love it – apart from all the cheese (which is cheaper in the UK) it’s surprisingly practical, even if the ingredients lists are massive. I definitely recommend the stuffed onions :)

  15. May 31, 2011 12:58 pm

    K: Let me know how it goes, and your spin on it :)

    H: Yes I finally ordered it along with the Ottolenghi cookbook as Amazon was having a free shipping sale!


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