Sadlly the supermarket has run out of lentils AND chickpeas, and I am doomed to two weeks of kidney beans. This also means that I can’t make the last dish on my Turkey list, cabbage and lentil salad. Sigh.
I did, however, come up with the ingredients for the other final Turkish dish: raw kofte.
Cig Kofte, or raw kofte, used to be what it sounds like: raw meat balls. Apparently the health authorities in Istanbul outlawed it due to the health risks of eating raw meat, and vendors adapted, coming up with a vegan, low risk version using bulgur instead of minced cow. Works for me.
At home, and potentially in restaurants outside of Turkey, this dish is still made with meat – so beware – but there are plenty of recipes approximating the Istanbul street-vendor version.
The recipe calls for fine bulgur, which of course I don’t have, so I tried to pound some ordinary bulgur with a rolling pin. No luck there, unfortunately. I also added some pounded walnuts, added tomato sauce for colour, added some chopped capsicum… and basically changed the recipe so much that it only resembles the original.
It tasted pretty darn good, and I quite like the idea of it as a wrap-filling for work lunches (when I finally get home and get a job again). It was a nice alternative to the deep fried felafel, also.
If you want an authentic version, check out the link above, but here’s what I ended up with. You might want to cook the bulgur and potato the day before, or fudge it like I did by sticking it the freezer (actually I put it on the balcony, but its -3 here, so its almost as cold as the freezer).
Vegan Raw Kofte
Makes about 15 balls
- 1 medium potato, peeled and diced
- 1 cup bulgur, and water to cook it with
- small handful of walnuts, crushed
- 3 tbs minced parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 spring onions, minced
- 1/2 a red capsicum, chopped finely until it looks smooshed (important technical term, that)
- 2 tsp chilli paste – I used ajika
- 3 tbs tomato sauce (tomato paste would be better, or you can use all chilli paste – I can’t because I get gastritis)
- Boil the potato until tender. Allow to cool completely.
- Cook the bulgur following the packet instuctions (if you have some). I just boiled it in a little water, adding water as needed, until it was mushy-looking, and it took me about 20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
- Make sure all the other ingredients are very finely chopped, then mix all them together to make a grainy paste.
- Add the cold potato and bulgur and mush with your hands until all big lumps are removed and the ingredients are well combined.
- Taste check here. As per usual, add salt if you want, or lemon juice (I didn’t have any, but I think it would have made a nice addition).
- Roll large spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, and smoosh a little with your hands, to leave finger marks.
- Serve with salad and some flat bread.
I served mine up with some salad, some potato chips made with the skin of the potato in the kofte recipe, and some beetroot relish. I invented the relish today, because I hate beetroot and have been looking for ways to use up the 2 kilos Mr bought (practicing his Russian) that don’t suck. It turns out I like it cooked this way, so I figured I share.
Bonus, non-Turkish recipe, Beetroot and Cabbage Relish
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 2 medium onions, large dice
- 2 medium beetroots, peeled and chopped into sticks (juliene, half length)
- 1 cup shredded cabbage
- 3 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tbs white wine vinegar
- dash salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- Fry the onion in a non-stick pan until the onion is well and truly translucent. This will take at least 10 minutes – don’t skimp.
- Add the cabbage and beetroot and fry, over a medium heat, until the cabbage is tender.
- Add about 1/3 cup water, the brown sugar, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook witht he lid on until the water has evaporated.
- Check the beetroot – if it is tender continue to the next step. If not, add more water and repeat. I did this three times, using about 1 cup of water all up.
- Once the beetroot is cooked through, remove the id and continue to fry, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes. Any remaining water should evaporate off, and you should have what looks like a mixture of sauted veg with some jam.
- Serve hot or cold with anything you like. I think it would go well with a faux meat dish and some mustard.