This hearty and delicious Turkish recipe is selected from the wonderful cookbook Adventures in Turkish Eating – Anatolia (Murdoch Books). Authors Somer Sivrioglu and David Dale offer a delightful collection of traditional dishes from across this renowned culinary hotspot.

The west coast city of Tekirdağ is known for two things: its exceptional rakı, due to the grapes and water of the region; and its delicious köfte, consumed in eateries devoted to this one experience and recognised as the most beloved veal dish all across the land of lamb. Each köfte maker in town has a personal secret ingredient, a common one being lungs. You may be relieved to hear my secret ingredient is not lungs, but semolina.

The accompanying salad comes from much further south – the sea resort of Antalya, where they add tahini to everything.

Ingredients

KÖFTE
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 onion
1 garlic clove
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) veal (about 20 per cent fat)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pimento
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 egg
½ tablespoon fine semolina
4 long yellow chillies

WHITE BEAN AND TAHINI SALAD
390 g (13¾ oz/2 cups) dried  white cannellini beans
½ teaspoon sugar
1½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
½ bunch spring onions (scallions)
1 French shallot (eschalot), chopped
8 cherry tomatoes
8 quail eggs
2 teaspoons sumac

Method

Put the breadcrumbs in a mixing bowl and moisten with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir in the bicarbonate of soda. Finely grate the onion and crush the garlic. Put the meat in the mixing bowl and then add the onion, garlic and the remaining köfte ingredients. Knead with wet hands for 15 minutes until the mixture becomes a smooth paste. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and rest in the fridge overnight.

Cover the cannellini beans with boiling water and leave overnight.

Strain and rinse the soaked beans, place in a saucepan with the sugar, cover with water and bring to the boil. Strain the beans and discard the water. Cover again with even more fresh water, add 1 teaspoon of the salt and boil, covered, for 1 hour.

Strain the beans and then transfer to a large salad bowl.

Dilute the tahini in 2 tablespoons of water. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and the remaining salt. Mix the tahini dressing through the beans.

Pick the leaves from the parsley and finely chop. Wash the spring onions, then remove the roots and tough outer leaves, and finely chop. Stir the parsley and spring onions through the salad. Finely slice the shallot. Sprinkle the pieces over the beans. Quarter the cherry tomatoes and spread them over the shallot.

Preheat the barbecue hotplate or a grill pan. Add a drop of water. If it sizzles, the grill is ready.

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add the quail eggs and boil for 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and run them under cold running water. Remove the shells, slice in half and place the halves on top of the salad. Sprinkle a little sumac over the eggs.

Divide the ball of köfte into patties about 1 cm (½ in) thick and about 6 cm (2½) wide.  Make indentations with your hand across the top. Put the patties on the barbecue and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until brown. (If you are using a grill pan, cook for 4 minutes each side.) Char the yellow chillies until the skin is slightly blackened.

Serve four köfte per person, with the bean salad and chilli.

Images and Text from Anatolia by Somer Sivriolgu and David Dale. Photography by Bree Hutchins. Murdoch Books RRP $49.99. 

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