Tekirdağ Meatballs (Tekirdağ Köftesi)


Tekirdağ, my hometown, is renown for its rakı (Turkish brandy made from grapes) and meatballs. Tekirdağ rakı is famous because although it’s made from raisins everywhere else, in Tekirdağ rakı is made from fresh grapes. As for meatballs, the recipe is a mystery. The recipe is not widely known, because nobody in Tekirdağ would make Tekirdağ meatballs at home; you go out to one of the billion meatball restaurants in town for meatballs. However, if you’re in the states, you need to solve the mystery and discover the recipe. At one of those times when I was craving Tekirdağ Köftesi, I searched cookbooks and foodblogs and finally found this recipe and changed it a bit after a couple of trials. I must say it’s a very successful one; meatballs are yummy and the taste is quite similar to Tekirdağ Köftesi, but yet not 100% (you have to have it at a restaurant). Enjoy these delicious meatballs now, but if you ever go to Turkey, do eat Tekirdağ Köftesi with bean salad + spicy red pepper sauce on the side and try to figure out “the” recipe!

1pound ground lamb
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 medium size onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed pepper
1 tsp mint flakes
1 egg
2 tbsp fine semolina

-Knead meat, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, cumin, and salt well in a bowl with your hands.
-Add baking soda, black pepper, paprika, crushed pepper (pepper flakes), and mint, and knead again.
-Finally add egg and semolina, and knead well for the last time.
-Cover with clear wrap and refrigerate over night.
-First wet your hands and then shape into oval-shaped meatballs. At meatball restaurants in Tekirdağ, meatballs are served in finger-shaped forms.
-If you’ll save them for later use, place meatballs in a plate, freeze, and then put them all in a bag. They are good for months in the freezer.
-You can barbecue or broil them, or fry them with a little bit oil in a frying pan. The choice is up to you.
Tekirdağ Köftesi goes well with rice and tomato salad.

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