Mother-in-Law’s Meatballs

İçli köfte


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

A traditional Anatolian dish prepared by the mother-in-law of a new bride. She hollows out the köfte, fills them with a spicy mixture, seals them, and presents them to her new daughter-in-law. This signifies that the bride’s lips must now be sealed with discretion.


For the köfte

  • 8 oz/225 g minced lamb
  • 8 oz/225 g bulgur
  • 1 teaspoon kırmızı biber
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour for coating
  • sunflower oil for deep-frying

For the filling

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
  • 1 tablespoon clarified butter, or olive oil and a little butter
  • 1 oz/30 g walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 4-5 allspice berries, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • 4 oz/120 g minced lamb
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 16 teaspoon dried oregano
  • small bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Put the bulgur in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes. Squeeze it dry and add the minced lamb, kırmızı biber and salt. Knead well and pound to a thick paste. Take small portions of the mixture and mould into egg-shaped köfte. Using a finger, hollow out an opening in each one and put them aside.
  • Prepare the filling. Soften the onion and garlic in the butter or oil, then stir in the spices and walnuts and add the second lot of minced lamb. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the herbs and season to taste.
  • Stuff some of the filling into each hollowed-out köfte and pinch the top edges together to seal it. Roll the sealed köfte in a little flour and fry in plenty of oil until golden-brown. Serve hot with yogurt and çoban salatası, portakal salatası, or kereviz salatası.