Meatballs in Egg and Lemon Sauce

Ekşili köfte


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

These ‘sour meatballs’ are also known as terbiyeli (‘well behaved’) köfte. The dish dates back to a period of experimentation with sauces in the Palace cooking daring the Ottoman Empire. It is usually served with a plain pilav.


For the köfte

  • 1 lb/450 g minced lamb
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 tablespoon rice, washed and drained
  • bunch of fresh dill and parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons plain flour for rolling

For the cooking liquid

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • pints/900 ml water
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and diced

For the sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Knead the köfte ingredients together and pound to a paste. Take small portions of the mixture and shape them into small balls. Roll them in the flour and put aside.
  • Put the carrots in a pan and add the water. Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drop the köfte into the water with the carrots, cover the pan and bring the liquid to the boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the potatoes and extra water if necessary, and simmer for a further 15-20 minutes until the rice has cooked in the köfte and the vegetables are tender but not soft. At this stage the dish will resemble a thin meatball soup.
  • At the last minute, in a bowl beat the egg yolks until light. Beat in the lemon juice, add a little of the hot liquid from the pan to the mixture, and pour it all into the pan to make the cooking liquid into a sauce. Stir well and heat through, but be careful not to boil the liquid. Season and serve.