Lenten chickpea kofta

The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Alan Benson


Quantity Ingredient
440g chickpeas
2 small potatoes, boiled in their jackets
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground white pepper, to season


Quantity Ingredient
3 large onions, halved and sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
50g pine nuts
50g currants
205g tahini
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to season

To finish and serve

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon salt
olive oil
ground cinnamon or paprika
lemon wedges
parsley sprigs


  1. Soak the chickpeas in 1.5 litres cold water for 24 hours, in a cool place if the weather is warm. Remove the skins. Drain well.
  2. Pass the skinned chickpeas through a food grinder twice, using a fine screen. Alternatively, process them to a paste in two batches in a food processor, using a steel blade.
  3. Peel the boiled potatoes, place in a mixing bowl and mash finely with a fork. Add the ground chickpeas, salt and a generous pinch of white pepper. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  4. To make the filling, place the onion in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons water. Cover and steam over medium heat for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and allow the moisture to evaporate. Tip the onion into a bowl and cool.
  5. Add the allspice, cumin, pine nuts and currants to the onion. Combine well, then mix in the tahini, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Take four pieces of muslin (cheesecloth), each about 50 cm square, and scald them in boiling water. Cool them a little, then wring them out well.
  7. Open out a square of cloth on a work surface and place one-quarter of the chickpea paste in the centre. Spread the paste evenly with a spatula to a 20 cm square, then place one-quarter of the filling in the centre, spreading it a little.
  8. Bring each corner of the paste over the filling by lifting up the corners of the cloth. The paste should enclose the filling in envelope fashion. Smooth the joins to seal them well.
  9. Make a single tie with each pair of diagonally opposite corners of cloth, then tie a second time.
  10. Complete another three topigs in the same way.
  11. Half-fill a large saucepan with water, bring to the boil and add the 1 tablespoon salt.
  12. When the water is briskly boiling, lower the prepared topigs into the pan and return to the boil. Cover the pan and allow it to boil steadily for 12–15 minutes, or until the topigs float and feel firm to the touch.
  13. Lift out the topigs immediately and place them on a tray, draining off the water that collects in the tray.
  14. Untie and invert the topigs on a platter and leave until cool.
  15. When ready to serve, pour a little olive oil over each topig and dust lightly with cinnamon or paprika. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley.
  16. To serve, cut each topig in half, then slice into thick pieces. Add olive oil and lemon juice to individual taste.


  • Ready-skinned chickpeas are available at some Armenian and Greek food stores. These look like split peas, but are larger and nut-coloured.
The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook
Middle Eastern
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