‘Stuffed Meatballs’, in Turkish ‘İçli Köfte’ is one of the most famous dishes of Antakya (Antioch) district of Hatay city. ‘Stuffed Meatballs’ is a very special dish that turns up at our tables mostly at family gatherings. It is also very popular in Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon and it is called ‘Kibbeh’ at that region.
The core ingredients of ‘Stuffed Meatballs’ are bulgur, minced onions, walnuts, finely ground lean beef and spices. It may seem easy to make this delicious dish, but believe me it is a quite challenge to make a proper ‘Stuffed Meatballs’ dish. The hardest part to make this dish is to keep the bulgur dough stay intact. Using Semolina is the key here; because Semolina has a binding characteristic and it helps to keep the bulgur dough united. You will also need to put a cup of water aside while shaping the bulgur dough. Once you get used to make ‘İçli Köfte’ dish, it will be in your top 10 dish list.
In Turkey, there are 2 (two) cooking method of ‘Stuffed Meatballs’. One is called ‘Boiled Stuffed Meatballs’ and the other one is called ‘Fried Stuffed Meatballs’. The difference between the boiled one and the fried one is; boiled one doesn’t have red pepper paste in the filling because during boiling red pepper paste loses itself in water.
The reason that I mention about these two different cooking types is when you go to a restaurant in Turkey and ready to give your order, you need to mention which type you want. If you don’t tell it, most likely you will get the fried one because it is fast to serve than boiling. In this post I will give you the fried one because it is my favorite type.
Where to eat Stuffed Meatballs?
In Turkey, some people consider ‘Stuffed Meatballs’ as main dish and some consider it as a starter; however, most people consider it as meze. If you ask me, I consider it as meze too, because most of the restaurants offer ‘Stuffed Meatballs’ at the meze section of their menus. My favorite restaurant to eat both fried and boiled Stuffed Meatballs is called ‘Sabırtaşı Restaurant’ in Istanbul. It is located at Istiklal Street in Istanbul. If you want to taste this delicious food, tell your tour guide to stop by at this restaurant.
- 1 kg regular ground beef
- 75 ml vegetable oil
- 100 gr walnut
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon red hot pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon pepper paste
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 onion (large size) dice cut
- 1 kg fine bulgur
- 400 gr extra lean ground beef
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red hot pepper powder
- 1 onion (medium size) grate
- 3 potatoes (small size) boiled and sliced
- 3 slices bread make them wet
- 1/2 cup semolina
- 1 egg
- 3 cups vegetable oil
Preparing the Filling
In a small skillet, put 1 kg regular ground beef and salt and fry 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the 75 ml of vegetable oil and add the dice cut 1 large onion and fry them 5 minutes more.
Add black pepper, red hot pepper powder, pepper paste to the mix and stir them well and turn off the stove and put the mix aside. Ground the 100 gr of walnuts at the food processor and add to the mix.
Making the Bulgur Dough
In a very large mixing bowl, combine the bulgur, extra lean ground beef, salt, black pepper, red hot pepper powder, grated onion, sliced potatoes, wet bread slices, semolina and egg. Knead them about 30 minutes to form a bulgur dough. Add water while kneading because dough gets dry fast.
Take walnut-size pieces of the bulgur dough and roll them into balls. Use a thin cucumber to create hole at bulgur dough balls. Put filling and close the bulgur dough ball. Continue until all filling finishes.
In a large skillet, pour the 3 cups of vegetable oil. Fry the meatballs evenly on all sides until they have dark golden-brown color. Place on paper towels to drain excess oil.
Tip: Garnish it with parsley.