Içİi Köfte is high on the list of favourites for many in Turkey and is revered due to its supposed complex nature. When it is unveiled at the table there are plenty of Ooohs and Aaahs to be heard. It is also a wonderful picnic food as it is easiest eaten in the hand.
It can be eaten hot or cold, but the shell is always crisper when just cooked.
It is truly delectable and is an art to create. But that can be learnt and is not as hard as I imagined.
Visiting the Finike Orange Festival this year, Şahmer the Içİi Köfte seller was extremely kind and not only let me video him making them but gave me his time honoured recipe.
MUCH EASIER TO MAKE THAN EXPECTED
It was brilliant to see this guy actually forming them, because he had a technique that I truly believe makes it far easier than I have ever seen before. I am definitely wanting to try making them now, as it actually looks possible to achieve a decent result!
Here I have managed to video this master creating these little delicacies. Don’t worry about trying to hear what I am saying in the video. The show tells it all.
This dish descends from the Arabic kitchen and it’s more famous name is Kibbeh, hailing from Lebanon. In the more Eastern countries it will be slightly spicier with the recipe including cinnamon, allspice and more pepper. The Turkish version is a cleaner flavour and I believe you can eat more of them as it is not as rich. Is that a good thing? How many is too many?
Out and about, they are eaten by themselves however at home they are often served with hummus or cacik (a minty yogurt sauce) and a salad. Eaten as a meal or a snack, I cannot recommend them highly enough.
After watching the short video above, I hope you will be inspired to give them a whirl. They are definitely a bit of fun to try and even if you do not perfect the shape, the flavour and texture is really very special.
- INNER CASING
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ kg onions, finely chopped, processed or grated then placed in a strainer for 20 minutes
- ½ kg minced beef, lamb or a mix of both (not lean, slighly fatty) drained for 20 minutes if thawed
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp oregano
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ⅓ cup chopped walnuts (optional) - do not chop too fine
- 1 flat Tbsp pepper paste (sweet or spicy - depends on your taste) or tomato paste
- OUTER CASING
- 1 cup fine bulgur
- ½ cup semolina
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 tsp pepper paste
- 1 cup oil for frying
- INNER CASING
- Heat the oil and add the dry minced onions
- Fry the onions in the oil until transparent and then add the meat
- Fry the meat gently and let any liquid begin to evaporate
- Add the walnuts if using, stir for a minute
- Add the pepper or tomato paste and stir well for 2 minutes
- Turn the heat down and add the remaining ingredients
- Stir well and taste the mixture.
- At this point adjust the seasonings according to your taste
- Once all the liquid has evaporated from the meat turn off the heat
- Empty the meat mixture into a strainer and leave it to completely cool and drain
- OUTER CASING
- Mix the 3 dry ingredients well together
- Add the water, mix well and leave to completely soak it all up
- hours later add the pepper paste and knead the mixture extremely well until the mixture becomes really soft and can easily be formed into shapes.
- Knead the cold meat mixture and roll it into sausages about 8 cm long (3 inches)
- Wet your hands well
- Take handfuls of the mixture and form into a ball.
- Push your index finger into the ball and form a casing
- CREATING YOUR IÇLI KÖFTE
- Take a meat ball and slide into the formed hole
- Close the casing up gently and carefully roll the Içİi Köfte in your hands and form it into a pointy football shape
- Heat oil in a frying pan and fry on all sides until golden all over or deep fry for around 2 minutes
- These can also be dropped into boiling water and cooked or baked in an oven but is not as flavoursome as the frying options but definitely the healthier option.
- Serve warm or cold
- It is very nice to serve these with hummus or cacik