NOTE: Do not forget to turn on the volume to hear two Turkish folk songs which I love a lot.
icli kofte is one of the most special dishes of Turkish cuisine as it’s not so easy to make it. One should really want it and believe in herself to be successful. To reach the best result, you should try making it more than once. But when you taste it once, you will absoultely see that it is worth.
icli kofte is especially made in the Southern part of Turkey. It has some varieties according to the area it is made. Some people stuff it with just ground meat while in some places it can’t be called icli kofte without walnuts in its filling. In some places, people put ground meat even in its dough but in some areas this one is thought to be heavy, so it’s not prefered. Some people also use meat with its grease for its filling, but again others think that it makes the dish too heavy and fattening. Some people fry these koftes whereas others boil them in hot water. In this recipe you will read the icli kofte made in city of Tarsus, with a mixture of walnuts and ground meat for filling, no grease in it, no meat in its dough and boiled koftes.
As it is a very special dish, when people have important guests for dinner, they make icli kofte for their guests to show how they are important for the house owner. This important guests may be the parents of their daughter-in-law or son-in-law. It is very important in our culture to host such guests with dishes which are difficult to make. You can not just serve a delicious spaghetti to these guests. It means you don’t give enough importance to them. It is the same for a newly wed couple. If they invite especially the husband’s parents, the daughter-in-law must show how important they are by making difficult dishes. Also, if we have guests from a far away city, we generally make icli kofte. As you understand, this is not an ordinary dish, so it is always eaten with more than two people. Noone prefers eating it alone or with just wife and husband. When families get together, they make it together and eat together.
In Turkey, women love to help each other in making such difficult dishes. You may call your friend or neighbor to make it together, she will gladly accept. You make it together for your guests and when your helpful neighbor is leaving, you give her a bowl of what you prepeared together as a thanking.
In the past, there was a funny tradition about this difficult but tasty dish. Women would put a piece of gold in one of these stuffed bulgur koftes, but tell noone. Even they themselves wouldn’t know which kofte had the gold. And while eating, everyone would wonder the lucky person who would have the gold in his or her kofte. We still have this tradition in some areas. Similar to this one, but less dangerous for our teeth, people now put a chickpea to surprise their guests. As you see, eating icli kofte becomes a funny activity entertaining everyone.
Today most restaurants serve icli kofte as an appetizer, but they don’t taste as good as homemade ones. They are served cold and dry, but it must be warm enough to feel its perfect taste.
For its filling:
- 1 kg (2 lb) ground meat (beef), lean
- 1 kg (2 lb) onion, finely chopped
- 125 gr (4 oz) margarine or butter
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup crumbled walnuts
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 2 tsp thyme
- 3 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp pepper paste
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- 2 green hot pepper, finely chopped
For its dough:
- 2 cups ground bulgur
- 1 cup semolina
- 1 cup flour
- 2 cups water
- 2 eggs
- ½ tbsp pepper paste
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp paprika powder
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp salt
- A pot of water
First, we prepare its filling mixture so that we have enough time to let it cool. This is so important as we can’t stuff the dough balls with the mixture if it’s still warm. It must get thicker while waiting, that’s why we use margarine or butter. If you use any kind of oil, you have difficulty in stuffing.
Put ground meat in a pot and cook it over medium heat until it absorbs the water it releases. Then add chopped onion and stir occasionally. Add margarine or butter into it and stir. When the margarine melts and is absorbed, add salt and 4 tbsp olive oil. Put pepper paste and stir. When it is completely combined, add chopped parsley and green hot pepper. Season it with cumin, black pepper, paprika powder, thyme. Then add a cup of walnut and stir. Take it from the heat, do not let parsley and green pepper cook well. Now stir it to combine all well. Let it cool. The wait may be longer than 2 hours as the mixture must be cold and thick enough. If you like, you can prepare this filling mixture overnight.
Now it’s time for the dough. Put bulgur in a tray and soak it with cold water. Then put semolina in the same tray seperately and soak it as well. 2 cups of water is enough for both of them. Cover the tray and wait for about 15 minutes. After this time, season it with the spices. Then break the eggs. Combine them. And finally, put flour and knead it well.
Take a piece of dough, bigger than a walnut. Shape it in your hand. Start pressing your thumb into this piece of dough and turn it around itself to shape. This shell should be as thin as you can make. Then put 1 tbsp of the filling mixture into this shape and close the shape again with your hands. (See the video.) Your hands must be wet to shape the dough, so put a bowl of cold water near you to wet your hands occasionally while shaping it.
After you finish all the dough, heat water in a pot and bring it to boil. Pour lemon juice and add 1 tsp salt into the water. This will protect the koftes to lose their shapes. Boil them about 10 minutes. when they are cooked, all of them starts to float in the boiling water. You can also check if it is cooked with a special method. Take one of them on a plate, press the slotted spoon on the kofte gently (See the video.)If you hear the kofte is whispering when you press, it is done. If you don’t hear this sound, let it boil a few minutes more.
As the process of making icli kofte is difficult and long, I wanted to show you the steps of it in this video. Luckily mom and dad visited us and we had the reason for making icli kofte to celebrate their visit. I learnt how to make icli kofte from mom, the greatest cook I’ve seen. So in this video she is making icli kofte and I helped her. It would be so hard for me without her. When we were making it, dad was around us waiting for the time he would eat one. At last, we finished and we served it to dad. You see how he enjoyed his lunch. We of course use fork and knife in everyday life, but traditionally people eat icli kofte with hands. You can also squeeze lemon on each kofte while eating.