Kofte, originally köfte, is probably one of the most popular foods in Turkey. Well, maybe after doner (döner) shawarma. And it is not just Turkey. These flavorful meatballs are highly popular all around Greece (Keftedakia), and the Balkans (Kofta, Qofte, Cufte, Kyufte, Chifte, etc.). In fact, most countries have similar dishes with different ingredients according to their geographical area and cultural affiliation. In the US, for example, they are called breakfast sausages. However, the taste is significantly different.
Names change, spices may change, but the general rules are the same. Grilled or fried, you need to consume these while they are hot.
What gives Turkish kofte its unique taste is the way it is cooked over the charcoal grill. You can hear the sizzling sound of the grill at every kofte kebab place. Add onions, thyme, and oil the grill with tail fat to capture that authentic aroma.
Moreover, kofte is a tradition in Turkish cuisine. And every tourist center is full of kofte restaurants. Those crispy meatballs with soft insides would get every meat lover’s attention right away. Nevertheless, every region has a unique recipe for this quick, easy, yet, tasty meal.
Different types of Kofte Recipes
As I mentioned earlier, kofte recipes change slightly from town to town. Some prefer to add bread crumbles, while others rely on cumin powder heavily. Some like it with garlic, and some don’t. In northwestern parts of the country, people add baking powder to make them even crispier. On some occasions, they tend to roll them in flour before frying for the same purpose. However, some things never change; it is customary to serve kofte with ayran (yogurt drink).
In general, they are formed either in a small oblong shape or rounded like a small size burger patty. Regardless of the ingredients, most restaurants in Turkey serve piyaz salad (white kidney beans salad) as a generic salad next to this delicious meal.
Classic Turkish Kofte Recipe
There are so many kofte varieties. We grill, pan fry, slow cook, and even have the meatless, all-spiced up version such as Mercimek köfte (made from red lentil). Some well-known types include Inegol Kofte, Akcaabat kofte, Kuru kofte, Dalyan kofte, Hasanpasa kofte, Bohca kofte, Delikli kofte, Eksili kofte (meatball soup), Kadinbudu kofte, and more. Nevertheless, today, we will focus on the classic version. Here we go:
Turkish Kofte Kebab – Traditional Grilled MeatballsCourse: Main courseCuisine: Turkish, KebabDifficulty: Easy
1 pound (454 g) of ground beef
1/2 pound of ground lamb (use an alternative meat-type if you can’t find it in your area)
1 medium-size white onion
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 bunch of parsley, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
1/4 teaspoon dry coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon powdered red pepper
Salt to taste
- Add the ground beef and lamb into a medium bowl.
- Add in the bread crumbs.
- Knead for a few minutes.
- Add in all the other ingredients.
- Continue to knead and mix into a smooth paste.
- Shape into small patties, or form small oblong sausages in the size of your pinky.
- Cook over medium heat or on the barbecue for 4-5 minutes on each side. They will get dark brown. Be careful not to burn them!
- If you don’t have bread crumbs, do not worry! Just soak 2-3 slices of stale bread in water. Caution: Do not put too much water, just enough for the bread slices to get wet. Squeeze the water out of the bread before you add it into the ground meat mixture. Alternatively, you can toast 2-3 slices of bread, cool them down to room temperature, and soak in water.
- Some do roll kofte patties in flour before frying to give a crispy texture. However, this only works if you are frying the kofte in the pan. The flour will not give good results if you are grilling them.
If you want to make Trakya (Thracian) style kofte at home, add one tablespoon of baking powder (14g) into 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Add this into the ground meat mixture.
Kofte is enjoyed in a so many different regions of the world, stretching from India (kofta) to the Balkans. Every country has its own flavors. It is almost a way of life in Turkey to grab a kofte sandwich for a quick meal, much like the Hot Dog sandwich in the US. I have been cooking so many versions of this popular dish for a long time now, and I am looking forward to sharing them all with you here. I hope you enjoy it, bon appetit!