Çiğ Köfte

We always run out of time. At the end of every country, we are left with a list of things that we didn't get around to or couldn't find. When we left Turkey, one of the things on that list was "try çiğ köfte."
Well, luckily, we haven't really left Turkey. Cyprus is a divided land, with an independent republic in the south and a Turkish-controlled semi-state in the north. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey, and is essentially a militarily occupied chunk of the island (locals might tell you a different story). For us that means familiar tastes and sounds, and another chance to try çiğ köfte.
This man runs a shop that sells only one dish.
Literally translated to "raw meatball," çiğ köfte is a southern Turkish specialty that is popular everywhere. Mounds of the stuff sit in takeout windows in Istanbul, men push carts of it around the streets. In theory, çiğ köfte is made from raw ground beef, kneaded into a paste with a heavy mix of spices, onion and ground bulgur. In practice, couscous or whole bulgur is usually substituted for the meat. It's increasingly difficult to find the traditional variety, which was fine with us.
In the town of Kyrenia, on the northern coast, the Öztürk brothers have a veritable monopoly on quality vegetarian köfte.
The chef wanted us to know, right away, that his wares were made with couscous. "Vegetarian," he said. "No meat," he added for emphasis. He seemed surprised that we'd come in. A man who was eating helped us with a few of the particulars, pointing out the "spice sauce" and the "no spice sauce."
There was no menu, just a choice between a ration of köfte or a köfte wrapped up in flatbread. We chose one of each.
The paste is smushed into little patties and served with parsley, lettuce and tomato. It's spicy in a low-grade, smoky and fruity way. Apparently, there are some fifteen different spices in the recipe. Even more fruity and slightly more fiery, the "hot sauce" was thick and sweet.
Included with the meal were little cups of ayran, a salted, drinkable yoghurt that's ubiquitous in lunch spots all over Turkey (and Northern Cyprus). It's not something I'd drink by itself, but it's great for cooling a spice-burnt tongue.
So, a coincidence - I just learned that a çiğ köfte place opened about a month ago on our old block in New York. So, if you're near East 9th street between 1st and Avenue A, you can try this out for yourself.
You have read this article Cyprus / Food with the title Çiğ Köfte. You can bookmark this page URL https://africathoughts.blogspot.com/2012/02/cig-kofte.html. Thanks!

No comment for "Çiğ Köfte"

Post a Comment