Çiğ köfte

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Çiğ köfte
Turkish çiğ köfte.jpg
Çiğ köfte meal in Turkey
Region or stateŞanlıurfa with Adıyaman
Main ingredientsRaw meat, Bulgur, onion, tomato paste, hot red pepper paste, urfa biber, salt
Ingredients generally usedFresh mint, parsley, spice, lemon, olive oil
VariationsVegetarian, Eggs

Çiğ köfte (Turkish pronunciation: [tʃiː cœfte]) or chee kofta[1] is a köfte dish that is a regional specialty of Şanlıurfa and Adıyaman in southeastern Turkey served as an appetizer or meze. Similar to kibbeh nayyeh from Lebanese cuisine,[2] çiğ köfte is common to Armenian and Turkish cuisines,[3] and is also found in the traditional cuisine of the Urfalim Jews.

Traditionally made with raw meat, there are vegetarian variations made with bulgur and in Urfa, a local meatless version is made with scrambled eggs.[4][5] In Diyarbakır province locally prepared batches are sold by street vendors.[6]


In Turkish, çiğ means "raw" and köfte means meatball. The word köfte derives from Persian, ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root "*(s)kop–" (grind, pound, beaten).[7]


Bulgur is kneaded with chopped onions and water until it gets soft. Then tomato and pepper paste, spices and very fine ground beef or lamb are added. This absolutely fatless raw mincemeat is treated with spices while kneading the mixture, which is said to "cook" the meat.[8] Lastly, green onions, fresh mint and parsley are mixed in. Some çiğ köfte makers, particularly in Adıyaman, do not use water in their recipes. Instead of water, they use ice cubes and lemons.[9]

Meat differences[edit]

In the beef variant, ground beef is used. Tendons and fat are removed before grinding the beef. High-quality beef is required, since it is served raw.[1]

Since lamb is considered a "clean meat", it is often used for çiğ köfte instead of beef. Both Armenians and Turks use çiğ köfte as a meze, served almost cold. The raw meatball, or kofta, is not kept overnight and is reserved for special occasions. The lamb used must be deboned and trimmed of gristle and fat before it is prepared. The lamb is supposed to be butchered, bought, and prepared the very same day to ensure freshness.

With either meat, finely ground bulgur (durum and other wheat) is required. Other ingredients are mild onions, scallions, parsley, and usually green pepper. Variants of the dish may use tomato sauce, Tabasco sauce, and mint leaves. When served, it may be gathered into balls, or in one piece. Crackers or pita bread are sometimes used to consume ıt.



Urfa/Riha version

The dish is often associated with Şanlıurfaprovince, where it is a popular street food, but it is a popular appetizer all over Turkey. The ingredients are all raw and traditionally include ground meat, bulgur, tomato paste, fresh onion, garlic and other spices for flavoring such as "isot" and black pepper.[10] A favorite way of eating çiğ köfte is rolled in a lettuce leaf, accompanied with good quantities of ayran to counter-act the burning sensation that this very spicy food will give.

A vegetarian version of ciğ köfte may also be made with only bulgur grains. The preparation is similar to the versions that include meat and some cooks also add pomegranate molasses. Depending on the cooks preferences, spices like cumin may be used instead of isot in the preparation of vegetarian versions.[11] Another vegetarian variation from Urfa is made with scrambled eggs.[12][13]

Although traditional recipe requires minced raw meat, the version in Turkey consumed as fast-food (through small franchise shops in every neighborhood of Turkey) must be meatless by law due to hygienic necessities.[14] Therefore, çiğ köfte is, unless specifically made, vegan in Turkey. Meat is replaced by ground walnuts, hazelnuts and potato.[15][16][17]

Çiğ Köfte in Muslim Mythology[edit]

King Nemrut, the king of an ancient civilization in the Adıyaman region, decides to burn Abraham because he believes in one god. With the order he gave to his people, he gathered all the wood and wood pieces in the kingdom in a big square. There was no wood left for cooking in the houses, and fires were forbidden. The wood and pieces of wood gathered in the square are the only fire to be lit to burn Ibrahim. The people gathered pieces of wood in the square for days by order of the king.

A hunter, who is unaware of this order because he is hunting on the mountain, brings the deer he has hunted to his house and asks his wife to cook it. It tells about the co-king's prohibition to light a fire. The hunter also obeys the desperate order. The hunter separates the right hind leg of the deer and crushes it with a fine stone. Add the bulgur, black pepper and salt and knead it well with the ground beef. It is rumored that raw meatballs were first made by this hunter and his family.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Perry, Charles (12 March 1992). "The Hollywood Walk of Food". Los Angeles Times. p. 12. Retrieved 2019-09-22.
  2. ^ Basan, Ghilli (2006). Middle Eastern Kitchen. Hippocrene Books. p. 71.
  3. ^ Brown, Ellen (2020). Meatballs: The Ultimate Cookbook. Cider Mill Press. p. 11.
  4. ^ Şanlı, Süleyman (2018). Jews of Turkey: Migration, Culture and Memory. Tayor & Francis.
  5. ^ Sivrioglu, Somer; Dale, David (2019). Anatolia: Adventures in Turkish eating. Allen & Unwin.
  6. ^ Kitchen, Leanne (2012). Turkey: More Than 100 Recipes, with Tales from the Road. Chronicle Books.
  7. ^ Nişanyan, Sevan. "kofte". Nişanyan Sözlük. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  8. ^ Planet, Lonely (2014-02-01). The World's Best Spicy Food: Where to Find it & How to Make it. Lonely Planet. ISBN 978-1-74360-421-2.
  9. ^ Laizer, Sheri (May 1991). Into Kurdistan: Frontiers Under Fire. Zed Books. ISBN 978-0-86232-899-3.
  10. ^ Cru, Rui; Vieira, Margarida, eds. (2017). Mediterranean Foods: Composition and Processing. Taylor & Francis. p. 258.
  11. ^ "Nar Ekşili Antep Çiğ Köfte". Nurselin Mutfağı. Retrieved 2018-11-08.
  12. ^ Şanlı, Süleyman (2018). Jews of Turkey: Migration, Culture and Memory. Tayor & Francis.
  13. ^ Sivrioglu, Somer; Dale, David (2019). Anatolia: Adventures in Turkish eating. Allen & Unwin.
  14. ^ "Etli çiğ köfte masum mu?". Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  15. ^ "Etsiz çiğ köfte çağındayız". Kocaeli Gazetesi. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  16. ^ TE Bilisim - Abdullah Tekin. "Çiğ köftenin 10 faydası". Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  17. ^ TE Bilisim - Abdullah Tekin. "Üniversiteli çiğköfteciler!". Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  18. ^ "Çiğ köftenin 4000 yıllık tarihi". Milliyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2021-09-03.

External links[edit]