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ÇİĞ KÖFTE: Vegan Turkish Spicy 'Meat'balls

I'm sharing this recipe inspired by a trip to France last year where we found this a Vegan Turkish fast food restaurant, that became our go to place for something quick and tasty. There is one here in the UK but it's in London which is a bit far for us to go.

Their speciality was Çiğ köfte, traditionally made with raw meat, but here they made a vegan version and the staff talked with passion about the process of making it. I determined that I would try to make it myself when I got home and here is the result of my efforts. I found this simple recipe on You Tube from Rafika's Kitchen and thought I would share it and my experience of making it. It's a simpler method than was described to us in the restaurant, as this one uses a blender where traditionally it's kneaded in a bowl, with a lot more effort!


2 slices onion

20 g 1 clove of garlic

1 teaspoon tomato paste, you can use passata as well

1 heaped teaspoon sweet pepper paste,

½ cup fine bulgur, use brown bulgur if you can find

¼ tomato,

40 g 1 good handful of peanuts

1 levelled teaspoon isot pepper (or any kind of spicy pepper)

1-2 ice cubes

1 heaped tablespoon ketchup

1 levelled teaspoon sumac

1 pinch cumin

1 pinch black pepper

½ teaspoon red pepper powder, use more if don’t have pepper paste

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

10 sprigs parsley


  • Soak the bulgur with 4-5 tablespoons of hot water until it is absorbed.

  • Put the onion, tomato, garlic, sweet pepper paste, and tomato paste in a food processor with 2 small ice cubes and blend to a paste. The ice cubes add a little moisture but also stop the mixture from heating up in the blender.

  • Add the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, salt, black pepper, ketchup, red pepper powder, cumin, sumac, isot and lemon juice to the food processor and blend again.

  • Add the soaked bulgur and peanuts and parsley and pulse again until it's all blended.

  • Remove small handfuls and shape. The usual shape is made by closing a fist around the mixture to make koftas. Alternatively you can simply spread a portion into a wrap.

  • I'm told that traditionally çiğ köfte is served with lettuce leaves, parsley, lemons, and more pomegranate molasses. When we add it in France it was served in a wrap with plenty of salad and hot sauce.

As you can see this is an easy recipe. Lots of ingredients can be swapped out and altered according to taste, there's no cooking and everything is just added to a blended. Easy.

Thanks for reading.

Karen x


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