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Turkish tabouleh: Hande’s kısır

Pomme Larmoyer’s Istanbul Cult Recipes is a compilation of recipes from Istanbul cuisine and recommendations of where to go and eat when you visit. Take your pick of lively Turkish breakfasts; linger over delectable plates of meze; try your hand at making breads, wraps and kebabs like those sold from the city's food carts, and master the art of making sweets such as baklava, helva and, of course, the unctuous Turkish delight.

With maps highlighting some of the author's favourite food destinations and profiles on some of the city's proprietors and chefs, let Istanbul Cult Recipes envelop you in its passion for Turkish food.

We think this would make for a wonderful lil xmas pressie, because who doesn't love Turkish food, it's absolutely amazing. We managed to get our hands on a little sneak, peak...just for you...so why not have a go at making your own tabouleh? eh?

Kısır is Turkish tabouleh, traditionally made from burghul, tomatoes, capsicums (peppers) and fresh herbs. Hande Bozdoğan, the lovely founder of the Istanbul Culinary Institute (see pages 164–165), gave me her version, which is both sweet (from the beetroot) and sour (from the pomegranate molasses and balsamic vinegar). The pomegranate molasses used to dress this salad is very different from pomegranate juice, and far more like a thick vinegar. Do not overlook it because it has a unique sweet–sour flavour.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

150 g (51/2 oz) fine burghul (bulgur)

2 beetroot (beets), trimmed, cooked and peeled (see note below)

extra virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar

2 bulb spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

3 or 4 flat-leaf (Italian) parsley sprigs, finely chopped

2 or 3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped

pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or other chilli flakes

1 generous teaspoon pomegranate molasses (available from Turkish or other Middle Eastern food shops, some supermarkets and online)

Bring 300 ml (101/2 fl oz) water to the boil in a saucepan, and add the burghul. Cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, then set aside. Purée one of the beetroot in a blender or food processor with a little olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Dice the other beetroot, and add the diced beetroot and the purée to the burghul. Next, add the spring onions, parsley, thyme, a pinch of chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt. Stir through, then add the pomegranate molasses and a little more olive oil. Stir through again, and serve cold.

Note: To cook beetroot, wrap them in foil and roast in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 1–11/2 hours. (Insert a knife into the flesh to check whether they are done: they are cooked when they are tender and the flesh is easily pierced.) Peel once they are cool enough to handle.

Images and recipes from Istanbul Cult Recipes by Pomme Larmoyer (Murdoch Books $49.99)

Pomme Larmoyer is a food writer, editor and traveller. She believes you can learn everything you need to know about a country from its kitchens and enjoys talking with other people from other cultures about their style of food.

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