Spicy Tartare Meatballs

Çiğ köfte

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

A speciality from southeastern Turkey, these raw meat-balls are reputed often to contain 30 different spices. They are so well kneaded and pounded that the meat content is almost undetectable. They are usually served with lots of fresh parsley to cut the spice.


  • 8 oz/225 g minced lamb or beef
  • 8 oz/225 g bulgur, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons concentrated tomato purée
  • 1 teaspoon kırmızı biber
  • ½ teaspoon roasted kırmızı biber
  • ½ teaspoon ground chilli pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • big bunch of fresh parsley


  • Squeeze the bulgur dry, allow it to cool (about 30 minutes), then put it in a bowl with the minced meat. Knead well, slapping it against the sides of the bowl until well mixed. Knead in the onions, garlic and tomato purée, followed by all the spices, a little chopped parsley and the salt. Knead thoroughly for 20-30 minutes. Shape small portions of the mixture into balls, indent them with a finger, and arrange them on a bed of parsley. Serve them with wedges of lemon to squeeze into the hollows. Eat them with the remaining parsley leaves.