Kofte and a Meatball Blog Hop

Just as I became obsessed with Greek food (like chicken souvlaki and Greek salad) after our trip to Rhodes, I’ve returned from Istanbul with a hunger for all things Turkish. The incredible flavors, intoxicating scents, and evocative spices have left their mark on my palate, and I find myself trying to recreate little bites of our trip at home. As I mentioned in my post about where to eat in Istanbul, the first place we ate when we arrived was a wonderful, no frills kofte  restaurant that had me craving these Turkish meatballs for the rest of the trip.

Turkish Kebab Recipe

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In Turkey, kofte refers to small, flattened patties of ground meat (usually beef or lamb) that are somewhere between a slider and a meatball. They were most often served simply with rice pilaf, so my version on a pita is a departure, more like something you would see in Israel. I also didn’t have them in Turkey with any kind of yogurt sauce, but in my book everything is delicious with yogurt sauce (obviously leave this off to make it kosher).

While in Istanbul a trip to the Spice Market is a must for any food lover. In addition to the Turkish delights (lokum) and Iranian saffron that I stocked up on, I also purchased “meatball spice” from the Ucuzcular spice shop. A mix of cumin, sweet paprika, allspice, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon, this is a common Turkish spice mix that instantly transforms ground beef into Turkish kebab. Obviously if you don’t have this concoction then wing it with some combination of the above spices; not very technical or precise, I know, but I do believe it will leave you with the general flavor. If I were mixing it up myself I’d add just a pinch of ground nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon and be a little more generous with the other spices.

Turkish Kebab Recipe

The lovely folks at Ucuzcular were also nice enough to email me a booklet of recipes highlighting their spices. This kofte recipe is an adaptation of theirs, and it was absolutely delicious. The spiced meat was flavorful without being overpowering, and the dish couldn’t be easier to prepare. My husband, always my biggest fan, declared them the best kofte he’d ever eaten.

5.0 from 11 reviews
Kofte with Mint Yogurt Sauce
Prep Time
Cook Time
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These Turkish meatballs are very good replicas of the ones we ate in Istanbul, although there they would typically be served plain with rice pilaf. Leave off the yogurt sauce to keep this dish kosher.
Recipe Type: Main
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley, loosely packed
  • 2 teaspoons meatball spice (or some combination of cumin, sweet paprika, allspice, black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Torn mint or parsley, for garnish
Mint Yogurt Sauce (optional):
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper
For the Kofte:
  1. Put the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, onion, parsley, meatball spice, and garlic in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands until well combined.
  2. Form them into 16 or so small, flattened meatballs.
  3. Lightly coat each kofte in flour.
  4. Put enough vegetable oil in a large skillet so that it is well-coated and heat over medium-high.
  5. Add the kofte, working in batches if necessary, and cook, flipping once, until done (about 5 minutes per side).
  6. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  7. Serve with plain rice pilaf or, as I have here, on a pita and topped with mint yogurt sauce. Garnish with torn or chopped mint or parsley.
For the Mint Yogurt Sauce:
  1. Put the yogurt and mint in a small bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Serve immediately or store in a covered container in the fridge.
Kosher meat if yogurt sauce is omitted (it's still delicious!) Can be made gluten free with GF breadcrumbs.

36 thoughts on “Kofte and a Meatball Blog Hop

  1. sallybr

    Oh, I LOOOOVE meatballs of all kinds, so I’ll be glued to your bloghop trying to collect interesting recipes

    actually I love kofte and have it on my list to make. That list that has no end 😉

    Have a nice weekend, thanks for another great theme for blog hopping

  2. Bev

    Thanks for the invite! I’m flattered 🙂 Meatballs are a great idea, people pleaser, comfort food. I’m all for a Meatball Potluck Party where you can just pop them into your mouth!! Thanks for hosting 🙂

  3. PolaM

    Delicious! I love those Middle Eastern meatballs, but I usually mix in some lamb. I have to start playing with spices more!

  4. Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen

    I got excited to see you were doing meatballs this week! Yay!!! I’m linking up two recipes – my Spaghetti and Meatballs and my Crockpot Cocktail Meatballs. I am absolutely in love with your Turkish Meatballs. I would love that for lunch today!

  5. Liz

    I have so much fun seaching through my archives each week for a recipe to share with your theme. I love meatballs and your Turkish version sounds incredible! Thanks for always inspiring me~

  6. Lisa

    Your kofte looks incredible. I think w’re on some planetary wave length, because I made them too – with a yogurt-mint-cucumber sauce lol However, yours are simply gorgeous, and I love them on the pita!

  7. Eri

    I’m glad you had good time at Turkey Katherine, it is true that the spice market in Istanbul is the best one that you can find in the whole Mediterranean area and has a great history too.
    It’s no wonder that you loved the Turkish cuisine, it’s very similar to Greece’s. Every country has influences from neighbors..
    I love the dish, I;m not skipping the pittas and your lovely sauce how could I?
    Have a nice weekend my friend!

  8. Kat

    I really love kofte and yours looks absolutely delicious. I was tipped off about the blog hop by Willow from Will Cook for Friends, so I’ve added a Norwegian meatball recipe! Thanks so much for hosting!

  9. Sarah, Simply Cooked

    I love meatballs. I consider myself a wannabe-vegetarian, because I find most meat to be distinctly un-tasty. But meatballs have won me over recently. Thanks for featuring so many great ideas.

  10. mjskit

    There is a restaurant here that serves a delicious Kofte with mint yogurt sauce and I absolutely love it. I’ve never made it before, so I’m thrilled that you shared your recipe so I can make it at home! This looks SO good and so do all these wonderful links to meatball recipes!

  11. kitchenriffs

    I love all of the world’s small spicy meatball-like things! So many great flavors. If one were inclined to (I’m not!) you could probably do a post a day for a year on all the various varieties and permutations. Anyway, this is a particularly nice rendition – good job!

  12. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Looks like you had Top 9, congrats Katherine! I was surprised that I didn’t have my favorite meatball recipe in my blog to join you. Your Kofte looks amazingly delicious! I also love the mint yogurt sauce you made.

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