Stuffed Bulgur Kofte Video

Stuffed Bulgur Kofte from zerrin gunaydin on Vimeo.

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.

icli kofte


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

For boiling:
–    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.

Stuffed Bulgur Kofte |


  1. OysterCulture says

    Love the video – I’m dancing in my seat to the great music!

    I love the tradition of hiding something in the kofte – I know other cultures do that for various celebrations. I love this post – you had me dancing in my seat and hungry for the fantastic sounding kofte.

  2. says

    Oyster- Happy to hear that you love the music. I prefer listening to such songs while cooking or doing some other house chores. They give great energy!

  3. says

    A smiling plate puts a smile on my face. Meaning the kofte’s got to be good. I have never heard Turkish folk songs before, so that really neat.

  4. says

    I enjoyed this listening to the music and reading about the tradition and the recipe. Now I just wish I could have tasted it :)

    I loved your description of how to tell if the kofte’s cooked by listening to it whisper. My grandmother always described the way things cook that way. Whether they’re whispering or breathing or singing, etc.

    I’ll have to find out where I can get bulghur and semolina so I can try out this recipe.

    Great video!

  5. says

    Absolutely loved the video and the music! When I have some time, I would like to make these icli kofte – I bet they are so delicious! I really wish I could have a little one right now!

  6. says

    Just turn on your Video, what a fun music to cook with. Make me want to stir and dance at the same time. Fun! Love this type of music very much!

  7. says

    Just finished to watch your video! Amazing… that they whisper when they are ready. Love food that can talk!!!!!!!!

  8. says

    An excellent video that really demonstrates that the effort to make it is well-rewarded by the obvious enjoyment that others have in eating it! I’m getting ready to publish a post on meatballs but in comparison, it’s a minor thing!

    What a wonderful and delicious way to show your loved ones how special they are to you!

  9. says


    You did a great job on this video. The food looks amazing and the video is easy to follow.

  10. says

    Icli kofte is one of my favorite Turkish dishes. An aquantance of mine said best icli kofte is made in Malatya and she promised to show me how one day:) My friend’s mother0-in-low made teh Adana version of it and I couldn’t have enough of it:) It was absolutely delicious. I love the version with walnuts. I really want to try out your recipe one day. Annenin ellerine saglik ve cok tesekkurler.

  11. says

    MMMMM,…Zerrin: these stuffed bulgur koftes look so beautiful & so delicious! I love them!! Yummie!

    You did a great job with this video! easy!

  12. says

    Love the music in background and video showing a worthy example of the Turkish cuisine.
    The stuffed bulgur sounds really delectable :)



  13. says

    Great video! I like the music. It’s so helpful to see how you prepare the dough and then stuff it. The dough sounds delicious with the pepper paste.

  14. says

    Great looking recipe! I love the idea of making them with a friend. It sounds perfect for something more time consuming like this.

  15. says

    I can NOT get the video plug in to work. I will have Joel help me. I will send this on to Dad as well.

  16. Rachel Bronson says

    Finally I found my favorite recipes here, thank you so much and this was far much the best Icli kofte i made. i hope second try will even be better. can you tell me what singers on this video? I love the music, and the turkish culture in general.

  17. says

    Rachel- Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog. Happy to hear that you loved icli kofte. I’m sure the second try will be perfect! Cooking is such a process that takes us always to better. In the video, the first folk song is “Halime Kiz” by Turgay Basyayla, the second song is “Yandi Bagrim” by Zara. These are very energetic, aren’t they?

  18. Rachel Bronson says

    Merhaba Zerrin,
    thank you so much for the songs. I love them and cannot get enough listening to them. they are so energizing

  19. yasmin says

    Hello Zerrin

    I just wanted to thank you so much for the içli köfte recipe. I’m originally from the dominican republic. I have no idea of how to make any turkish dishes, and my turkish is terrible :D. I corrently live in turkey with my husband who is turkish and my 16 months old baby. I wanted to make somethıng special for them, so I said to my self why not try something that they really like?
    I have tried to make içli köfte before and it was a pure disaster, but thanks to you and this fabulous recipe I am a hit in my house. The video is the cherry on top of the ice cream! The instructions are easy to follow to the point that I made them exactly how you showed on the video, and I only saw the video once. My mother in law just said masalah :p
    she really like them. Now we are planning to make ‘mother nad daughter soup’ lets see hoe that comes out.. 😀

    Any ways thanks againg 😀

  20. says

    Yasmin- Happy to hear the video and recipe helped you and everyone at your home loved it. And also thank you for letting me know this.If your mother-in-law loves it and says masallah, it means you are absolutely so successful :) as Turkish mother-in-laws can’t easily love a dish made by their daughter-in-laws :)

    Not everyone knows ‘analı kızlı’ (soup with mother and daughter), Are you living around Adana, which is famous for this soup? Another famous soup in Adana is ‘yüksük corbasi’ (thimble soup) and you can also find a video of its recipe in my blog. You can surprise your family with this soup, too.

    If you have any questions about Turkish dishes, feel free to ask me.

  21. Aminah (Emine) says

    Hello Zerrin
    I visited Turkey and it was very beautiful country tried many different food there I am from USA and I married a Turkish man :) I love this icli kofte and iskender the most I had something that was like pizza but not if you could help me with fining out what this is and have a recipe for it that would be great… and a recipe for iskender. I have found one but it wasn’t like what I had in Adana. My husband is currently in a different country working, while we work on his immigration papers. :S His family don’t speak in English so I am a little lost in sharing my Turkish experiences with my family here. Thanks for this recipe on icli kofte.. it was so great to have it again :)

  22. Peter says

    @Aminah, the pizza like thing you are reffering to sounds like Lacamacun (sorry about the spelling).

    I just wanted to ask a question Zellin. A friend of mines wife made something similar to this a while back, I haven’t had a chance to talk to her as they don’t live locally.

    But I’m sure her crust/shell/dough contained whole bulgurwheats, is that a different dish or just another regional way of preparing this dish? I loved it and after some googling I think I figured out that icli kofte was what she had prepared. However, looking at both the video and reading the ingridients I’m just no sure.

    Either way I’m definetely trying this recipe out, looks and sounds delivious.

  23. says

    Peter- You’re right, the pizza like thing is called lahmacun. And I have a recipe of small version of lahmacun here.

    The dish made by your friend’s wife must have been icli kofte if the filling is similar too. Turkish cuisine contains millions of various dishes, so it may be a different dish as well. Even all cities in our country have special dishes, so it may be another regional food. But with bulgur crust and walnut&mince filling, it is most probably this icli kofte. I highly recommend you to try this one even if it is not the same with what your friend’s wife made. It is incredibly tasty! I will be glad to hear the result.

  24. vicky says

    I’ve just come back from my second visit to Turkey and my boyfriend absolutely loves these!

    I have a question though, I have a nut allergy so I was wondering if i can just leave out the walnuts or whether I have to replace them with something else?

  25. Brendan says

    Thank you so much! These are just heavenly. So glad to find the round ones like the restaurants in Istanbul. The oblong ones don’t even seem to look the same inside, so almost like a different dish altogether.

    • says

      Did you eat these in Istanbul? Great! You’re right, the oval ones are fried and I find them a bit bland when compared to these.


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