A Recipe for İçli Köfte
In an effort to keep bringing awareness to the devastation caused by the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey, I am continuing to cook and bake dishes from the region. Today I am preparing İçli Köfte (known as Kibbeh), a special type of meatball popular throughout the Middle East, including Syria and Southeastern Turkey. İçli köfte is a dish with a lot of history, as many cultures and countries have their own variation. Served on the menu at the Ottoman palace, this dish most likely originated from the cultural food exchange of Arabs, Kurds, and Turks. In Turkey, it is often served as a meze or small plate rather than a main dish. I made a quick video of me preparing the dish (click the image below). I am not 100% satisfied with the thickness of the outer dough layer nor the consistency; note the cracks in the final product. I think more ice and mixing time could have helped the dough reach the desired texture.
This recipe is a fairly involved process but worth the effort to learn about the multifunctionality of bulgur cracked wheat. I pulled this recipe directly from Refika Birgül’s youtube channel (recipe video below). She is an incredible Turkish chef who makes Turkish dishes approachable and fun! She is also active in supporting earthquake victims and a vocal advocate for basic human rights in Turkey. I will include her recipe below and I highly recommend watching her recipe video several times before starting!
As some might know, Salih has been in Turkey for almost two weeks, with one more week left until he returns to America. While I am more than ready for him to come home, he is right where he should be - helping to provide aid, distribute supplies, and support various organizations on the ground.
If you would like to continue to donate or share with friends or family, here is a list of organizations we trust:
İçli Köfte Recipe
By Refika Birgül
For the bulgur dough:
200 g double ground beef, fatless
2 cups fine bulgur
3 tablespoons semolina
1 tablespoons pepper paste, biber salçası
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon salt 15-20 small ice cubes, 150 g
½ to 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 kg double ground beef should be fatless
3 onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 handfuls walnuts or pistachio, chopped (raw and shelled)
1/2 bunch of parsley, chopped
Salt & black pepper
Sunflower oil or any frying oil works great.
For the stuffing, I always use ground beef from the rib. But you can also use 50% lamb – 50% veal if you prefer. The important thing is that you should always be by the pot, waiting and braising it thoroughly.
Start braising the minced meat with medium-high heat in its own fat; when it is being cooked, it will release its water. Add the onion and a pinch of salt when it starts to soak its water.
Lower the heat and add in the butter. When the onions almost disappeared and the meat smell turns into that of a kebap – meaning, in 20-25 minutes – it means that your minced meat is now braised. Now, you can add the black pepper and salt.
This is a long process; stir occasionally, add some water, and scrape all the flavor on the pan.
Add the walnuts or pistachios and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Turn the heat off and add the parsley.
Mix the semolina with 150 ml water for the bulgur dough, cover the top, and let it soak in the water for 5 minutes.
Mix the bulgur with the semolina using a stand mixer or by hand and knead with the flat beater. Add the ground beef, pepper paste, cumin, black pepper, and salt.
Add in the ice cubes while kneading. Knead for 15 minutes until the mixture becomes a paste. This will take longer- around 30 minutes- if kneading by hand.
To understand the correct texture, take a piece of dough in your hand and press to flatten. If the sides crack, it means it needs more kneading and ice.
Finally, add ½ to 1 cup flour- the amount will vary depending on the bulgur type. It is ready when it becomes a dough that does not stick to the hand and rolls out easily.
Take 75 g lumps from the dough and shape them into balls.
Keep a bowl of water beside you to wet your hands.
Wet your hands and make a hole in the middle of the dough with your index finger. Then, turn the dough in your palm with light movements and make the hole bigger with your index and middle fingers.
Fill in with beef mixture -around 2 tablespoons-.
Wet your hand and close the open edge by slowly squeezing it between your index and thumb. The shape should be a little bigger than a lemon. You can perfect the shape by wetting your hands. Prepare the remaining dough in the same way.
You can roll out the dough between cling film for an easier way. Cut into 2 equal pieces. Place the stuffing spaced apart on one part and lay the other part on top with cling film. Cut with a cup or cookie cutter. Seal the edges with wet hands.
Heat the oil and deep fry until golden brown or you can air fry them at 200 C (390 F) for 14 minutes. Oil each köfte before cooking.
Another way of cooking is baking; oil each köfte before cooking and bake them in the oven at 200 C (390 F) for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.
Squeeze lemon while eating and best serve with spoon salad and ayran.