İçli köfte

The first time I made this dish was over a year ago and the recipe I used was completely different than this one. It was just some random recipe I found online and I have to say the effects were worlds apart as well. Since then I’ve learned how to do it much better thanks to my fiancé’s mom who shared the real recipe with me. It is very tasty but it takes a lot of time to prepare it. To make the job easier I break up the preparation process into two days. It is possible to do all in one day though.

The key to success here is to get the cover right. Although I give exact measurements here you will still have to adjust the amount of water and flour yourself. The kneading process is most important and it will decide whether your koftes fall apart while cooking or not. You will have to knead it for quite a while since bulgur needs time to absorb the water. And while it does it will change the consistency of your dough. If you make it too wet the dough will fall apart and you won’t be able to form shells so be very careful with adding too much water. A good method of checking whether your dough is ready is trying to form a shell. If it feels right and the walls don’t crumble or sink inside it means you might have just nailed it.

According to your preference you can use lamb meat instead of beef and you can also add a handful of raw minced meat to the cover while kneading. If you do so you will have to boil the koftes a little bit longer and also you have to put that meat through food processor to get rid of any fibre which could stand out in the structure of the dough. Also make sure your mince meat in general is double ground, it will make a huge difference in terms of flavour.

And to finish with a couple or explanatory notes on bulgur. I am guessing not everyone may be acquainted with this type of wheat, since until recently I myself wasn’t either. It is worth trying though as it is very healthy and tasty. There are two types of bulgur: köftelik bulgur – fine-ground type and pilavlık bulgur – coarse ground. The latter, as the name suggests, is used for making pilav. The former, however, is of interest to us as that’s the one we will be using here. If you would like to learn more about this cereal have a look here.


  • 800 gr minced beef
  • 4 big onions
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh parsley

Chop the onions very finely and fry them until golden on olive oil. Transfer to a larger pot and add minced meat. Cover and simmer for around 1 hour. Add salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley (around 2 handfuls). Uncover and simmer another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and place in fridge overnight.


  • 2 cups koftelik bulgur
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1-2 spoons pepper paste (mild or hot)
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 -1 tbsp salt
  • 2/3 cups semolina
  • 2-3 cups of water

Mix everything together apart from water. You will add water gradually while kneading to understand if it still needs a splash or not. Knead for around 20 minutes and wrap in foil. Leave in fridge overnight. I find the fridge part essential as it does influence the consistency of the dough and makes it much easier for me to shape it the next day.

That was the easy part. Now time to shape the shells. Prepare a cup of water which you will use to keep your hands moist while forming shells, it will avoid the dough sticking to your palms. First take some dough and form a ball, just small enough to fit in your hand. With your index finger make a hole in the middle of the ball but not all the way through, stop just when you feel you will bust the other end. Then roll the ball in your hand and push your index finger gradually to sides, therefore enlarging the hole you made and making a sort of hollow grenade. Once your shell is ready add 1 or 2 spoons of meat filling (amount depends on size of your shell). and close your shell at the top. Once the shell is sealed you can roll it enclosed in both of your palms to form this specific grenade shape.

Place the ready ones on a moist surface while they wait for cooking. Remember to keep them covered though so they don’t get dry. Prepare a pot of salted boiling water and cook your koftes for around 10 minutes. Wait until they surface and then let them cook a couple of minutes more. Don’t make it too crowded in your pot and once you bring the water to a boil make sure you bring the heat down so that it just bubbles. Otherwise if the water bubbles too strong your koftes might burst open. You should get around 30 koftes from this recipe although it depends how big you make them. If they are smaller though they have bigger chances of keeping it together in the pot.

It is a main dish in itself but you can serve it with small side dishes like hummus, tzatziki or fried peppers.


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