This recipe comes from Aylin Oney Tan's marvellous book, A Taste of Sun & Fire, which is a fabulous introduction to the ancient cuisine of Gaziantep in south-west Turkey.
Ekşili ufak köfte is one of Gaziantep’s best loved dishes, complex but worth the effort. The tiny bulgur balls are served with pieces of stewed meat in plenty of rich lemony liquid, topped with melted butter. The bulgur balls are cooked separately and combined with the meat just before serving. Adding them too early will cause them to swell up and lose their texture and flavour. Some people also like to add chunks of aubergine, winter squash or quince.
- Yield : 5-6
- fine bulgur - 4 cups
- lean minced meat - 600g
- onion - 1
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- ground red pepper (paprika) - 1 teaspoon
- ground black pepper - 1/2 teaspoon
- allspice (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
- For the stew:
- lamb on the bone - 750g, cut in pieces
- onions - 2
- chickpeas - 1/2 cup
- red pepper paste - 1 tablespoon
- tomato paste - 1 tablespoon
- garlic cloves - 4-5
- 2 lemons - juice of
- ground red pepper (paprika) - 1 tablespoon
- salt - 1 teaspoon
- allspice - 1/2 teaspoon
- dried mint - 1 tablespoon
- butter - 2 tablespoons
Place the pieces of meat on the bone in a saucepan with 6-7 cups of water and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. Add the strained chickpeas, chopped onion, pepper and tomato pastes, lemon juice, salt and spice. Cover and simmer until the meat and chickpeas are tender.
Add the garlic when the meat is just about cooked.
Meanwhile prepare the bulgur balls. Mix the finely chopped onion, minced meat, fine bulgur, red pepper, black pepper and salt. Knead this mixture well, adding half a cup of water after 10 minutes, and another half cup of water after a further 10 minutes. Continue to knead until the mixture is smooth and stretchy. You can save some time and effort by putting the mixture through a food processor, but you still need to knead the mixture by hand for a while more until it is the correct consistency. Dip your hands in water then take small pieces of the mixture and form into tiny chickpea-sized balls.
Bring some water to the boil in a saucepan. Place the bulgur balls in a strainer and balance it over the saucepan. Cover and steam for 15-20 minutes.
When they are cooked, place the steamed bulgur balls in a deep serving dish and pour the stewed meat with its lemony sauce over them.
Melt the butter in a small pan and remove from heat. Stir in the dried mint and drizzle over the top just before serving.