Stuffed meat and bulgur köfte

Stuffed meat and bulgur köfte

İçli köfte

Eat Istanbul
David Loftus

These are fiddly to make but well worth the effort once you’ve become deft at stuffing them. Popular in many households, this Turkish equivalent of Italian ‘arancini’ usually has a meat stuffing but you can try a herb and cheese variation if you wish.


Quantity Ingredient
200g fine bulgur wheat
3 tablespoons plain flour
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
200g minced lamb
40g shelled walnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
4 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced or cut into ribbons
fresh mint sprigs


  1. For the filling, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion for 3–5 minutes. Add the minced lamb and continue to cook for 8–10 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the walnuts, paprika, allspice, cumin, oregano and mint, stir well, then remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the parsley and some sea salt, stir well, then cover with clingfilm and leave to cool.
  2. For the köfte, place the bulgur in a large bowl, cover with cold water and leave for 10 minutes. Drain the bulgur in a colander, then transfer to a clean tea towel and pull the sides up before squeezing tightly to get rid of any excess water. Transfer to a bowl, season generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
  3. Divide the bulgur into 12 portions and roll into balls. Hold each ball in the palm of your hand and make a hollow in it with your finger.
  4. Stuff each köfte with about 1 tablespoon of the filling and pinch the sides together to seal the mixture.
  5. Roll each köfte lightly in the flour. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan suitable for deep-frying. The oil is ready when a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 30 seconds. Deep-fry the köfte, in batches if necessary, for 3–5 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain them on kitchen paper.
  6. Serve the köfte hot or cold with the cucumber slices and mint sprigs and sprinkled with a little sumac.
Turkish food
Middle Eastern
Andy Harris
David Loftus
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