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ItchIn southeastern Turkey and northern Syria, they choose instead to mix their bourghol in a dressing heavy with tomato and red pepper to make Kisir (Turkish word meaning sterile).

The Armenians prepare the salad with fresh mint and lemon juice calling it Itch (translates to drink), while the Aleppines prepare it with dried mint and pomegranate molasses.

In this recipe, I prepare it as in Aleppo but present it in the form of a cake while it is usually spooned into a serving plate.


Ingredients:  6 servings

2 cups fine dark bourghol

½ cup olive oil

4 onions (350 g), finely chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

4 tomatoes (600 g), finely chopped

6 to 7 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons tomato (see note below)

1 teaspoon or more Aleppo hot red pepper paste or few drops Tabasco

1½ tablespoons dried and crumbled mint leaves

3 to 4 spring onions, white and green part finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped parsley

2 to 3 teaspoons salt

For decoration (optional)

½ cup finely chopped parsley

2 tomatoes, one seeds removed, finely chopped, one cut like a flower


1. Fry onion in olive oil over low heat till tender but not colored, add cumin, black pepper, and fry few seconds more.

2. Add tomatoes and cook 3 minutes. 

3. Add bourghol to the pan without washing it and cook few seconds while stirring.

4. Add pomegranate molasses, tomato paste, hot pepper paste, mint, and salt.

5. Stir mixture well, cover pan, and set aside till bourghol absorbs the liquid, stirring it after 20 minutes with a fork (at this stage the recipe may be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated till needed).

6. Mix in parsley and chopped spring onion.

7. Spoon ingredients into a circle or cake pan of choice pressing on top.

8. Turn Itch to a serving plate, garnish top with chopped parsley and chopped tomatoes, and serve with lettuce leaves or on its won.


About ¼ cup or more of Dibs el Fleifleh (sweet red pepper paste from Armenian shops) may be added with the fresh tomatoes for extra taste; in this case do not use tomato paste.

© 2005 Cooking Courses Marlene Matar