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çiğ köfte

Family, food, Languageemily kisa4 Comments

This is definitely one of my favorite Turkish dishes. Çiğ means raw while köfte are little meat patties. The ingredients above in the low metal tin are fresh ground beef, tomato paste, chopped onions, chopped garlic, ground black pepper, lots of cumin and salt. There is a big bowl of parsley to be added later. In the front is a spicy sauce made from lots of tomato paste, parsley, red pepper flakes and other yummy spices. On the side you need bulgur wheat, lots of red pepper flakes and a little water. Traditionally you also need a strong man to kneed the ingredients together.

This time it was our nephew's father's turn to do the mixing. For years it was my father-in-law's job but after his by-pass years ago he had to pass the job down. This recipe, or style or proportions of ingredients comes from his home town of Adiyaman in the east of Turkey. He left there when he was 18 to rarely return but still has lots of pride towards his roots. The mixing is done in those low tins on the ground with a blanket/bib for protection. You start by mixing the spices then start adding the ground beef, followed by the Bulgar wheat and salt. As the mixture gets kneaded the Bulgar softens and the spices somewhat "cure" the meat.

It takes a lot of time and muscle to kneed the mixture, there's my sister in law jokingly patting him off. After the initial mixture is done you add the red pepper flakes, the fresh chopped parsley and a little water if needed. You make a few batches spicy and add more pepper for really spicy! To make the patties you just take a ball and put it where your fingers and palm connect. I like how the patties hold the finger marks shape.

Here are my adorable parents getting ready to eat çiğ köfte for the first time. The patties are then wrapped in lettuce with a squeeze of lemon juice and the spicy sauce added to your liking. On the table is also homemade pickles and beets. And the white stuff Turks call American salad which is like a really gross version of potato salad with canned peas(blahhh!). Everything else is so delicious though! Also my father is drinking Efes pilsner which is pretty much the only beer in Turkey. There is really so few options but Turks love it!!! They haven't gotten into specialty beers and my husband thinks they don't want to???? Also a note on wine. In Turkey they have such a great climate and potential for good wine but it just isn't there. I have heard there are a few good ones but they are really expensive compared to the US. Any suggestions please????? Turks only seem to get into Efes beer and rakı,(Turkish Ouzo) the anise flavored liquor. It isn't as fun to buy wine in Turkey if I don't have anyone to share it with. I have been loving the inexpensive but good wine and I have plenty of people to share it with here over the holidays in the States! Anyways the çiğ köfte is an amazing dish and a great family/Turkish tradition from my in-laws. It was so special that my parents could come and share what exactly I am doing in that far away land where I found love.

Side note: I finally figured out I can add a Turkish language keyboard to my computer so I can stop butchering the Turkish language. Here is a link if you need directions on how to add and the site offers Turkish classes also.