ETSİZ ÇİĞKÖFTE – Turkish Meatless Raw Kofta

One of the things I really miss about living in Istanbul is having this amazing dish readily available at any given point in time.

“Çiğköfte” literally means raw meatball, traditionally made of raw ground meat, fine bulgur, tomato paste and a bunch of spices.. now, I know you might think that eating raw meat sounds bad, but hey, what about tartare?

However, due to health and food safety regulations, it is no longer allowed to sell çiğköfte that contains raw meat, so the only thing you can get outside is a completely meatless and in my opinion even more delicious version of çiğköfte.

I have been craving it so much, so I looked into making it myself. It was surprisingly easy. You might need to take a trip to a local Turkish grocery store to pick up some ingredients (I’ll give you the original Turkish names) but it’ll be worth it!

And as they say in Turkish – “Afiyet olsun!”

Etsiz Çiğköfte - Turkish Meatless Raw Kofta


  • 1 1/2 cup dark fine bulgur (köftelik esmer bulgur)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a pinch of isot pepper (isot/urfa biber)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp pepper paste
  • 1 small onion, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (nar ekşisi)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable/olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • iceberg salad
  • fresh mint
  • parsley, lemon


  • Mix bulgur with just boiled water, cover, let sit for 15 min.
  • Add salt and pepper, mix well by hand.
  • Add onion, continue mixing by hand for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, keep on mixing by hand for 10-15 min.
  • Form köfte by gently squeezing small amount of the mixture in your hand.
  • Serve with iceberg salad, fresh mint, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice.

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