I recently found myself sitting across from my sister in law as she made Köfte. I have watched her make different varieties of the Köfte many times but this variety was unique and I should have known that right from the start. Why? The name – ciğ = raw. Raw Meatball.
According to folk lore the Ciğ Köfte originated in Urfa. The wife of the great Nimrod went to cook a feast and found there was no firewood (as Nimrod had used it for a funeral pyre) so she mixed the meat with many spices and crushed them until the meal was palatable. It obviously worked for her and the Ciğ Köfte is served in one form or another in most restoranlar or lokanta from here to the border.
The Ciğ Köfte is similar to the Lebanese dish of Kibbe Nayyeh or perhaps the Chee kufta which is an Armenian dish but if we go with the folk lore the Ciğ Köfte is Turkish all the way.
After watching my sister in law make them I can say that there is not a lot of raw meat in the köfte rather it has couscous, a small amount of raw mince and a heap of spices. Anyone who saw my Köfte recipe from a couple of months back will see that making the Köfte is really simple and to make it a Ciğ Köfte it is merely a matter of adding a butt load of spice and, of course, the raw meat. The spices are crazy hot too (including isot, cumin and, of course, my mother in law’s red pepper paste) and The Turk tells me that being crazy hot they “cook” the meat and remove any germ. I am not really sure about that but as usual I am the first to give it a go.
And if you want to make this a vegetarian dish then simply replace the meat with crushed walnuts. Simple.
Wrapped in a piece of lettuce, a drizzle of lemon and an ayran (yogurt drink) to combat the spice, they were pretty damn good. Really tasty but also really spicy. I suffered afterwards with indigestion and was sweating up a storm lying on the couch clutching my stomach (which is still not quite used to that much spice in a dish) but it was enough for The Turk to declare the Ciğ Köfte the champion! Finally something that I couldn’t finish!
Post indigestion I finished off the Ciğ Köfte. Nothing is going to beat me!
If you want to give this recipe a try follow this link.
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