Çi G Köfte

Çi G Köfte

Çiğ köfte is a gritty, raw-meat and cracked-wheat experience,
buzzing with the scorching isot pepper of the Mesopotamian
plains that ‘cooks’ the raw ingredients, all served in a lettuce leaf.

Çiğ köfte is said to originate from Urfa, on the edge of the Mesopotamian plain, during Biblical times when King Nimrod piled all of the area’s firewood into an execution pyre for his nemesis, the prophet Abraham. Left with no fuel for cooking, a local woman ground together a mixture of raw meat, bulgur and spices. According to the story, Abraham walked from the flames unharmed, and the dish gained lasting fame from its walk-on role in the legendary tale.

You’ll need
300g (11oz) bulgur
1¼ cups (300mL) water
1 large onion, peeled and
300g (11oz) beef (or lamb),
finely ground and as lean as
2 tbs tomato paste
Bunch of parsley, chopped
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
100g (3oz) isot pepper, or
ground chilli flakes
1 lettuce to serve (cos lettuce
works well)
Lemon segments, to serve

Cooking Method
1 Place the bulgur, water and chopped onion in a large bowl. Mix together with your hands for up to 15 minutes until the bulgur softens.
2 Add the ground meat, tomato paste and chopped parsley, mixing to ensure all ingredients are evenly dispersed.
3 While continuing to roll and knead for up to 30 minutes, progressively add cinnamon,cumin, lemon juice and isot (or ground chilli flakes). Experienced çiğ köfte-makers will turn and fold their mixture constantly, periodically adding more isot, chopped parsley or lemon juice, and working to get as smooth a consistency as possible.
4 Serve by placing a dollop of the mixture on lettuce leaves and dressing with a squeeze of lemon (and more isot if you are bold).

Tasting notes
Generally served as a make-your-own communal appetiser, çiğ köfte requires its own eating technique. Taking a lettuce leaf, spread it with the spicy-meaty mixture, drizzle with lemon juice, then – if you dare – add more isot pepper, and eat. The crisp lettuce is your first encounter, before you experience the creamy, meaty essence of the ground beef that is the core of the dish, also noticing the slight grittiness of the bulgur. Soon the peppery fire of isot will dawn on you, a slow smouldering that builds to a furnace-like intensity. This is your cue to reach for more cooling lettuce, or extra drizzles of lemon. Or to embrace the fire and wolf down more.

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