Turkish Köfte in a lemony sauce

Ekşili Ve Terbiyeli Sulu Köfte – a really wonderful dish that can be enjoyed with or without rice. What we like very much about it is the slightly acidic, bright sauce. This is quite different from the sauce made with tomato and paprika pulp that is often used in Turkish cuisine.

You can buy minced meat. It should not be too lean, so that the Köfte do not become dry. Both beef and lamb are suitable. We recommend 3 parts beef to 1 part lamb.

There are countless recipes for delicious Köfte. We make a suggestion here and will present alternatives in other Turkish recipes. Often onions are grated and mixed with the spices and herbs (parsley and/or coriander) into the meat. We have a meat grinder, like to buy our meat in one piece (then we know exactly what we are getting) and therefore do it a little differently today.

We leave out the onions and use more garlic and the spices that you would also find in a Turkish sausage, the Sujuk. And we will also explain how to make these yourself one day.

Today we process a larger quantity of meat because it is easy to freeze. This way we produce the basis for Köfte for a few friends at the same time.

Beef brisket and lamb

Remember to always wash your meat well under running water and then dry it before processing. Never use your cutting board for anything else after processing meat. It must first be washed thoroughly with hot water and detergent.

If you are mincing meat yourself, first cut the meat into smaller pieces that fit into the grinder. Since the meat heats up during mincing, it should be processed very well chilled (unlike when roasting meat, before which it should have reached room temperature).


Now for the spices. Many things are suitable, today we use 22 g salt, 20 g paprika powder (sweet), 15 g cumin and 10 g ground black pepper per 1 kg of meat. We also add 20 g of our favourite baharat. Baharat is an Arabic spice mix that comes in countless versions. It often contains pepper, paprika, coriander, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Garlic must not be missing and we use 40 g of it today. Since we put everything through the grinder, we only have to chop the garlic coarsely.

For spiciness, we add 15 g of Pul Biber. This is the Turkish version of dried and crushed chilli, including the seeds, and is therefore quite hot.

Plenty of seasoning

That’s a lot of spices, but you’ll notice later that the rest of the dish hardly needs any seasoning. It gets its flavours from the Köfte.

Mix the prepared meat with the spices and garlic….

An intense mixture

…and then put through the grinder with a plate of small holes for a finer ground.

Effortlessly and quickly done

You could already form Köfte from the outcome and we don’t add anything else today either, no onion and no herbs.

If you want the Köfte to be a little softer and have an extra texture, you can now mix in 10 – 15 % of fine bulgur (“köftelik bulgur”). This is parboiled wheat that is usually cooked with water or steam, like couscous. You would add the bulgur dry – it cooks in the Köfte.

We don’t do that either and let our meat mixture take on flavour overnight in the fridge. You don’t have to do that, but you should at least rest it one hour, especially if you add (grated) onions. Four hours would be better.

It needs to rest

If you use a grinder, you don’t need to process the mixture any further. If you are using bought minced meat, finely grate the garlic (and possibly the onions) and finely chop the herbs. Then mix everything very thoroughly for several minutes so that the ingredients are well distributed.

In addition, the meat needs a binding so that the Köfte do not fall apart later. Since no egg is used for Turkish Köfte, this is done through processing. If you work the meat vigorously and longer in a food processor or with your hands, its structure changes. The mixture becomes finer and sticky. This is what you have to achieve.

After that we form small balls. They should still fit on a spoon so that you don’t necessarily have to cut them to eat comfortably.

Stage One

Now spread some flour on a plate and roll the balls around on it until they are lightly covered on all sides.

Stage Two

Now for the vegetables. The classic is waxy potatoes and carrots, in equal proportions. We peel and dice them into pleasant, equally sized pieces.

Veggie department

In a large pot, we heat some olive oil with a little butter. This adds the flavour of the butter, whilst preventing it from browning because of the greater heat resistance of the olive oil.

This already smells good

We now sweat the vegetables over medium-high heat until they develop some aroma. They should not brown.

That smells even better

In Turkish recipes, they almost always add water now. We want more flavour and use chicken stock. We will soon explain how to make it yourself. But there is also a wide range of decent instant broth without additives (it should above all contain no yeast extract or other flavour enhancers and be made from organic produce). It makes sense to have such instant broths in the household. You can’t always be in the kitchen.

Stock added

Let this simmer gently for 15 minutes. The potatoes are not yet fully cooked.

Now add the floured Köfte and cook gently for another 20 minutes.

What belongs together comes together

If you are cooking for two people, squeeze half a lemon, for four people a whole lemon. Add one egg yolk per half lemon to the juice, so for four people two egg yolks.

Lemon juice and egg yolk

We also add four spoonfuls of buttermilk for further acidity and velvety texture. You can also use yoghurt.

We stir this until smooth and then add a little of the broth – not too much at once, so that the mixture does not get hot and the egg yolk does not set. By gradually adding the broth and thus the heat, we ensure that the egg yolk remains liquid and that the lecithin it contains later binds the sauce. This is called a liaison.

Slowly build up the mixture

We added a total of one large ladle of the broth, stirred everything well again and then added the mixture to the pot.

Now you should only heat the dish gently and not bring it to the boil again, otherwise the egg could still set. If the sauce is not thick enough for your liking or you want to make it more durable – for example, because you want to eat the leftovers another day – you can still do the following:

Put one coffee spoon of starch in a glass and add two to three tablespoons of cold water. If you use warm water, the starch will form lumps. In cold water, however, you can easily mix it and make a perfect solution. Add this to your dish and bring to the boil, stirring gently. The starch will further thicken your sauce and the egg will remain stable. You can repeat this step if necessary.

A little chopped parsley is very good as a garnish.

A complete dish even without sides


And may the taste be with you.

Ingredients (for 4 people, without side dish):

For the Köfte:

300 – 400 g organic minced beef and/or lamb.

Optional: 30 – 60 g fine bulgur

Spices: Salt, paprika powder (sweet), cumin, black pepper (optional: Baharat, Pul Biber)


Optional: grated onion, parsley, coriander

For the dish:

200 – 250 g each of waxy potatoes and carrots

1.2 l stock (chicken or vegetable)

1 lemon

2 egg yolks

Some buttermilk or yoghurt


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