Turkish Meatballs Or Köfte

This is another recipe I brought back from my trip to Istanbul in April. It’s the cumin which gives them their middle eastern flavour. You could also add a couple of tablespoons of pine nuts and tea-soaked currants if you have them and you’re eating in. They add crunch and a juicy sweetness, but they tend to make the meatballs fall apart more easily.

I think these köfte go well with the Lebanese mint-scented yoghurt-slathered aubergines I posted yesterday.

If you are eating these on the go (they’d be great for bonfire night), you could stuff the pocket of some pitta bread with the meatballs and some of the garlicky yoghurt which goes with the aubergines.

If you are serving with just a green salad you will need to also give your guests some tahini sauce.

If you want to make more of a meal of it you could add to tomato sauce or to romesco sauce and serve on top of a steaming, unctuous plate of pasta.

Listen to My Dark Place by The Secret Trio at the bottom of this post, as you prepare the meatballs to get you in the mood.


Recipe for Turkish köfte

Serves 2


  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed with smoked salt
  • 25g/1 oz (a handful from the garden) of flat-leaved parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cinamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 500g/1 lb 2 oz mince (beef or lamb or a mixture of both)
  • olive oil
  • 15 grinds of Indonesian long black pepper
  • wedges of lemon
  • 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or use paprika with a dash of cayenne)


  1. Begin to slowly heat the oil in a big frying pan.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients with your hands in a big bowl and form into smallish balls.
  3. Fry in the hot oil, stirring to cook all sides, for five to ten minutes.
  4. Serve with the lemon wedges.





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