• Fri. May 24th, 2024


Worldwide Gastronomy Habits & Trends

Turkish Raw Meatballs: The History And Recipes

ByDamla Aydin

Jun 23, 2022

Turkish raw meatballs have gained a great reputation both in the country and around the world, especially because it has also a vegan option. This food, whose history dates back to about four thousand years, is a street delicacy that you can encounter on almost everywhere in Turkey. It is also popular in Armenian cuisine.

When you go to a restaurant in Turkey, it is usually served as a starter or appetizer. In the province of Şanlıurfa, it is served to the guests at “Sıra Nights”, which is a tradition of entertainment that has been going on for years with music, conversation and literature and lasts couple of days. There are raw meatball shops in almost every street of Turkey. In these shops, people usually sell vegan raw meatballs.

Read on to get more information about this Turkish traditional food, to learn about its history and to be able to try different recipes.

The Historical Background

Turkish Raw Meatballs: The History

Turkish Raw Meatballs is known as çiğköfte in Turkish. It is said that the history of Turkish Raw Meatballs dates back to about four thousand years ago. It is rumored that it originated in Adıyaman province of Turkey, which was known as the Komagene Kingdom. This kingdom, which was located in Southeast of Turkey, was ruled by King Nemrut at that time. King Nemrut (Nimrod) is also mentioned in the Bible as Noah’s great-grandson.

At that time, many people believed in polytheistic religions. King Nemrut wanted to kill Abraham because he believed in a monotheistic religion. He gave the order to kill him by burning him. With the order he gave to his people, he had all the wood and wood pieces in the kingdom gathered in a big square. There was no piece of wood left for cooking in the houses and it was forbidden by the king to make fires at houses. The wood and wood pieces gathered in the square to burn Abraham are the only fire to be lit. The people gathered pieces of wood in the square for days by the order of the King Nemrut.

A hunter who was unaware of this order because he was hunting on the mountain, brought the deer he had hunted to his house and asked his wife to cook it. Then, his wife told her husband about the King’s prohibition on making fire and his plan to burn Abraham to death. The hunter also desperately obeyed the order. He separated the right hind leg of the deer and crushed it with a fine stone. By adding bulgur, pepper and salt, he kneaded them thoroughly with the crushed meat. It is claimed that the first Turkish Raw Meatballs was made in this way by this hunter and his family.

Vegan Turkish Raw Meatballs Recipe

Ingredients for Vegan Turkish Raw Meatballs

  • 2.5 cups of bulgur
  • 1.5 cups of hot water
  • 1 teaspoon of isot (Urfa pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of sweet paprika powder
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 5 tablespoons of pomegranate syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 onion
  • Juice of 1 lemon


First, take the bulgur in a deep bowl and pour one and half glasses of hot water on it. Then, cover it and wait for it for ten minutes. While the bulgur is rising, grind the onion from the food processor and press it in a wire strainer to squeeze out the juice. Then, take the isot in the bowl and add hot water to it and wait it for five minutes. After the bulgur rises, put the puffed bulgur in the food processor and add the onion, soaked isot (with its juice), lemon juice, pomegranate syrup, olive oil, salt, tomato paste and red pepper from the robot, and grind it for ten minutes. You should stop it from time to time. Finally, take it in a bowl and knead it in your hands for a few more minutes and shape it. Easily ready in ten minutes. Enjoy your meal!

Traditional Turkish Raw Meatballs Recipe

Ingredients for Traditional Turkish Raw Meatballs

  • 400 gram thin bulgur (brown, for raw meatballs)
  • 250 gram ground beef (grounded for 4 times)
  • One piece of onion
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Four tablespoons of isot
  • Two tablespoons of pepper paste
  • One tablespoon of tomato paste
  • Three pieces of grated tomatoes
  • 1/2 bundle of parsley
  • 1/2 bundle of fresh onion
  • Two teaspoons of cumin
  • Two teaspoons of black pepper
  • One tablespoon of salt
  • One piece of lettuce
  • Two pieces of lemon
  • 1/2 bundle of fresh mint
  • One bowl of ice


First, put the finely chopped onions and crushed garlic in a large tray. Knead lightly with tomato paste and salt. Add the spices to it. Add the bulgur little by little to the mixture, and meanwhile add one-third of the grated tomato and two or three pieces of ice. Continue kneading until the bulgur is slightly soft and thickened and add ice when necessary. When the bulgur mixture is ready, put the ground meat on the tray and knead it with ice. Then, add the grounded meat to the bulgur mixture by kneading. In the meantime, add the remaining half of the tomato.

Then, add finely chopped scallions, parsley, cumin, black pepper and remaining tomato zest to it that has softened and mix without kneading too hard. Use ice or ice water in between to adjust the consistency. Knead until it does not fall out when the tray is turned. Finally, take meatball-sized pieces from it and shape it by squeezing it with your fingers. You can serve it with lettuce leaves, fresh mint and lemon. Bon apetit!

Turkish Raw Meatballs Wrap Recipe

Turkish Raw Meatballs Wrap Recipe

Ingredients for Turkish Raw Meatballs Wrap

  • One lavash bread
  • Pre-made Raw Turkish Meatballs (you can use the recipes above)
  • One piece of kale
  • One piece of lettuce
  • 1/2 diced tomato
  • A few pieces of french fries
  • A few pieces of pickles
  • A tablespoon of pomegranate juice


First, cut your lavash bread in half. Secondly, spread the middle part of the meatballs you prepared in the above recipes. Then, add finely chopped kale, lettuce and diced tomatoes. Optionally, you can add french fries and pickles. Finally, drizzle pomegranate juice on it and roll it tightly. It goes well with a drink. Enjoy your meal!

Do you like what you read? For more articles like this, check here!