Çiğ Köfte are a perfect hearty snack for in between. You can serve these vegan bulgur balls as finger food wrapped in a lettuce leaf. In addition you can add flatbread and salad to serve them as a main dish. They even work as filling for a wrap. In other words Çiğ Köfte are absolutely delicious and very versatile.
Çiğ Köfte is Turkish and means something like “raw and crushed”. That is because the original Çiğ Köfte are made of raw minced meat. The strongly spiced Çiğ Köfte are hugely popular in the southeastern provinces of Turkey such as Şanlıurfa or Adıyaman. In Turkey there are two different versions of Çiğ Köfte. One is made of minced raw meat and the other is made of bulgur.
Çiğ Köfte sold on the street are vegetarian by law
That’s great isn’t it? For hygiene reasons, the Çiğ Köfte, which are sold on the streets in Turkey, are always vegetarian. However, it may be that butter or mayonnaise is added. So it’s best to ask the vendor to make sure they are vegan.
The very popular meat-free version of Çiğ Köfte is made from fine bulgur (wheat), tomato paste, spicy pepper paste, fresh herbs and other spices. In the southeast of Turkey they also add spicy Isot and pomegranate syrup. Isot is a Turkish spice made from roasted, fermented and crushed Urfa chili peppers. It has a very dark, almost black color and a spicy, smoky taste.
Where can I get all these exotic ingredients?
You can buy Isot in all Turkish or Arabic supermarkets. You will find all the other ingredients you need for this recipe there as well. If you do not have a Turkish supermarket nearby, you may find the ingredients in the deli section of large supermarkets (at least in Germany) or online. By the way, the fine bulgur is called “Köftelik Bulgur”.
The preparation of Çiğ Köfte is quick and easy. While you soak the bulgur in hot water, you simply chop the remaining ingredients. Then you mix them in a blender to create a fine paste. Alternatively you could chop all ingredients very finely by hand. Then you knead everything together and form small balls using your hands. The Çiğ Köfte can be kept in the fridge for at least three to four days. So you can prepare a larger amount for meal prep.
“How do I eat Turkish Çiğ Köfte?”
Traditionally, the Turkish Çiğ Köfte are wrapped into a lettuce leaf and are then eaten by hand. Also they are often served together with thin pita bread and a plate full of of sliced fresh cucumber, tomato slices, olives, onions, pickled cucumbers, lemon and fresh herbs. If you like, you can also add fresh soy yoghurt.
I got this amazing recipe from the blog Healthy On Green. To refine it I added pomegranate syrup to the recipe like it is done in southeast turkey. In addition I served the Turkish Çiğ Köfte with lots of sides, for example Musabaha (Lebanese hummus).
Turkish Çiğ Köfte
For the Çiğ Köfte
- 500 g fine bulgur “Köftelik Bulgur”
- 500 ml water
- 2 spring onions
- 1 green pointed pepper
- 1 tomato
- 50 g walnuts
- 100 g paprika paste alternatively tomato paste
- 200 g tomato paste
- 50 ml olive oil
- 2 tbsp pomegranate syrup optional
- ½ bunch fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp mint frisch oder getrocknet
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika powder
- 1 tbsp Isot optional
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- chili powder to taste
- 1 tsp salt
For the sides
- 8 flatbreads
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 100 g olives
- 1 lemon
- 1 bunch fresh mint
- 1 bunch fresh parsley
- Put the bulgur in a large bowl and add the same amount of boiling water. Stir and cover with a clean kitchen towel for 10 minutes.
- Cut the spring onions, green pointed peppers and tomatoes into big pieces. Put everything into a blender together with the walnuts, paprika paste, tomato paste, olive oil, pomegranate syrup, herbs and spices and mix until a paste is formed. If you do not have a blender, you can chop all ingredients very finely.
- Add this mixture to the bulgur and knead well using your hands or a spoon. Season with salt and pepper. If the Çiğ Köfte mass is too dry afterwards, pour some more hot water over it.
- Let the mixture rest for about 30 minutes. Then make your hands wet and form oval Çiğ Köfte out of the mixture.
- Cut the vegetables for the garnish into slices and arrange them with olives and fresh herbs on a plate.
If you liked this recipe for Turkish Chig Köfte you may also like one of these other Arabic recipes:
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