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Kofte is meatballs from ground lamb or beef, or a mixture of the two, flavoured with onion, parsley and cumin. The name is derived from the Persian word for ground, kufta. Turkish meatballs are not always round but come in all shapes and sizes.

What is kofte

Kofte (Turkish spelling: kofte, pronounced: khof-the) are meatballs made from minced lamb, ground beef, or a mixture of the two. The meatballs are flavoured with onion, parsley and cumin. The name is derived from the Persian word for ground, kufta. 

Whether for a barbeque or picnic, a Turkish chef will certainly prepare kofte. Fancy a midnight snack or a meal in a restaurant? Kofte! Lunchtime? Kofte! Even cold kofte, from the day before, doesn’t go to waste.

Good kofte is juicy and tasty and is happily devoured in Turkey, the Middle East and India. In fact, almost every country has some form of meatball in its cuisine, don’t forget the Dutch meatball, Spanish albondigas or Swedish kottbullar. 

Turkish meatballs aren’t always round, they come in all shapes. Kadin budu kofte, for example, are elongated and have a crispy coating (kadin badu means women’s thighs). Adana kofte has a fiery chilli bite and icli kofte has the shape of a rugby ball and a coating of bulgar on the outside with a filling of walnuts and meat.

Cig kofte was originally a mixture of raw meat and bulgur but are nowadays mostly eaten by vegetarians. Each region has its own version of the much-loved meatball.

Did you know...

In Iran, tabrizi is served with kufteh, giant meatballs filled with items ranging from dried fruit to a boiled egg, or even a whole chicken.

How to prepare kofte

For “regular” Turkish kofte, minced meat- a mixture of lamb and ground beef- is mixed with grated onion, soaked stale bread, egg, parsley and spices. The exact spice combination varies from chef to chef but salt and pepper are always added. The minced meat is rolled into balls- smaller than European meatballs but larger than soup balls.

How to eat kofte

Serve the meatballs with a salad and cacik, a dip of yoghurt, garlic and mint. You will always have a winner! They can also be rolled in flatbread and brushed with cacik.

Also try

Do you prefer saucier meatballs? The Greeks (keftedes), Italians (polpette) and the Spaniards (albondigas) serve their meatballs with tomato sauce.

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