Gateway Dishes: Köfte

Gateway Dishes: Köfte

A taste of Turkey

Welcome to Gateway Dishes, our series on easy and iconic dishes that (we hope) will open the door to exploring new cuisines.

Turkish food combines elements of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian cuisine. If you visit Turkey, you’ll see köfte everywhere, served by street vendors and white-tablecloth establishments alike. Köfte are balls of ground meat (or sometimes vegetables) seasoned with onion, herbs, and spices. Each town has its own distinct version. Some are made with bulgur, rice, or breadcrumbs; others are meat only, mostly lamb, but sometimes a combination of beef and lamb. Some are shaped into large balls and stuffed; others are molded around a skewer to look like a sausage. Typically you’ll see them cooking over a grateless grill, suspended in air above a flame. However, it’s not uncommon for them to be deep-fried, simmered in broth, or served raw. Our lamb köfte are shaped around a skewer for ease of cooking, and seasoned with grated onion, garlic, sumac, cumin, dried oregano, and fresh parsley and mint. No matter how you prefer your köfte, make them! They are a spicier, bolder version of the American hamburger, and just as easy to prepare.

A Gateway Dish is an easy entrance, a slippery slope. It’s one recipe that exemplifies some of the flavors, techniques, and history of a cuisine, and opens doors to new ideas and new discoveries, from the Basque Country to Laos to Veracruz.