Çiğ köfte means ‘raw meatball’. It can also be written as one word, çiğköfte. It is a favorite Turkish snack and a specialty of southeastern Turkey, especially Adiyaman and Şanlıurfa.
Bulgur is kneaded with chopped onions and water until it gets soft. Then tomato and pepper paste, spices and very finely ground beef are added. This absolutely fatless raw mincemeat is treated with spices while kneading the mixture, which is said to “cook” the meat. Lastly, green onions, fresh mint and parsley are mixed in. Some cigkofte makers, particularly in Adiyaman they dont use water. Instead of water they use cube ices and lemons.
One spice that is associated with çiğ köfte, and with Şanlıurfa as a whole, is isot, a very dark, almost blackish paprika, prepared in a special manner, and which is considered as indispensable for an authentically local preparation of çiğ köfte (and also of lahmacun). Although, isot is famous as the special dried pepper that is locally produced by farmers of Şanlıurfa, in fact, it is a general word used for pepper in Şanlıurfa.
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.
There are also two no-meat versions for vegetarians. In Siverek district of Şanlıurfa, scrambled eggs are used instead of meat. And kısır, a specialty of Gaziantep region, although it resembles çiğ köfte in its conception, with more numerous and exclusively non-animal ingredients, is a dish that stands on its own.
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