This was still one of the scrumptious mezzes on our table at Adana kebab restaurant. It is cigkofte in Turkish and is a special kofte in south and southeast of Turkey. These are balls made mainly with bulgur, a special paprika and ground raw meat –fat, tendons and sinews should be removed. Raw meat is ‘cooked’ when you knead it with paprika, which is a special one made in this region. This paprika, which is called isot, is blackish unlike the regular reddish one, so the color of cigkofte shows its quality. If it has a dark color, it means that the best paprika is used in it. Other ingredients are spices, pepper paste, finely chopped onion and parsley.
Cigkofte is usually made by men as it requires some physical strength in the process of kneading. Kneading here is like cooking the meat, so you must have strong arms and fingers to be successful. Preparing cigkofte is like a ritual. There is a person who kneads the kofte and an assistant helping him by bringing what the kneading person asks for. He might ask for ingredients when it’s time to add, a glass of water to drink, or a paper towel to dry his forehead beacuse he sweats as a result of his effort. There are also guests watching them. Mostly they listen to Turkish folk music or even they themselves sing in this process.
Favorite way of eating cigkofte is rolling it in a lettuce leaf, squeezing lemon on it and accompanying with ayran or raki.
Some people refuse to eat cigkofte because of raw meat in it, they find it unhealthy. On the other hand, it is said to be healthy because the harmful parts of meat are removed and also it is cooked with kneading with spices, so there is nothing to worry. I accept it may not be the healthiest food, but I guess, I can tolerate this unhealthiness once in a blue moon. I just can’t ignore how scrumptious it is! You can’t stop eating cigkofte once you start it, but you shouldn’t eat a lot!