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Tag Archives | Turkish mezzes

Baked Turkish mini meatballs, koftes in pepper and tomato sauce

We Turks love our koftes, Turkish homemade meatballs. A childhood favorite, they get ready in almost no time and the delicious aroma greets you as soon as you are in the kitchen.

Mini Turkish meatballs, koftes; a delicious appetizer or a main course with rice aside.

Mini Turkish meatballs, koftes; a delicious appetizer or a main course with rice aside.

I recently made these baked mini koftes, meatballs for a friend, who follows a gluten free diet. They were delicious and moist in pepper and tomato sauce, also healthy, as being baked. You can serve them as a mezze, starter or bigger portions can make a lovely main course with some rice and steamed vegetables aside. Cacik dip of cucumber and yoghurt would complement these mini koftes very well too.

Baked mini koftes in pepper and tomato sauce.

Baked mini koftes in pepper and tomato sauce.

Afiyet Olsun,


Baked Turkish mini meatballs, koftes in pepper and tomato sauce
These delicious Turkish mini meatballs, koftes are a real crowd pleaser. The pepper and tomato sauce make them moister; they are also gluten-free and healthy, as they are baked.
Recipe type: Appetizers, Mezzes
Cuisine: Turkish Cuisine
Serves: 6
  • 225gr/ 8oz ground beef
  • 225gr/8oz ground lamb
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 400 gr/14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes
  • 30 ml/ 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 8 fl oz./1 cup water
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Small bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil aside to shape the koftes
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C/ 350 F
  2. In a large bowl, combine the grated onions, eggs and parsley and knead well. That will help soften the onions and blend the ingredients homogeneously.
  3. Stir in the ground meat, season with salt (about 1 – 2 tsp.) and ground black pepper to your taste. Knead for a good 3-5 minutes with your hands, until the mixture becomes elastic and mixed well.
  4. Cover this ground meat mixture with a cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and stir in the garlic and bell peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes, while stirring often.
  6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and 8 fl oz./ 1 cup of water. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir, cover and simmer on medium to low heat for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat off.
  7. Take out the ground meat mixture from the fridge to shape meatballs. Have a small bowl of water with a drizzle of olive oil near you.
  8. Wet your hands and take a small walnut size of the meat mixture and roll into a ball. Place the meatballs in a baking tray ready cook side by side and continue until all the meat mixture is shaped into mini koftes, meatballs.
  9. Bake the mini koftes in the pre heated oven (180 C / 350 F) for 25 minutes, they will start to get a nice golden brown coating.
  10. Transfer the baked mini koftes in a large baking dish and pour in the pepper and tomato sauce around them, giving a gentle mix.
  11. Bake the mini koftes in tomato and pepper sauce for a further 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken, the flavors blend in and meatballs will have a wonderful coating.
  12. Serve hot with plain rice and Cacik dip of cucumber, yoghurt and mint if you like.


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Zucchini (Courgette) Fritters with Feta and Dill – Kabak Mucveri

I have been looking at the previous recipes I posted and thought these zucchini fritters are really worth revisiting. The trick with them is to make sure you squeeze out any excess water from the zucchini, after grating. Hope you give them a go sometime and enjoy!

Zucchini are the most widely available squash in Turkey. They are very versatile, used in many dishes and their flowers are perfect for stuffing. This wonderful vegetarian fritters are fantastic accompanied by garlic infused yoghurt or a leafy salad and crusty bread. You can enjoy them as a meze/appetizer for supper or light lunch dish. The bite size versions would be a great party / finger food too. They are also wonderful served next day as a cold snack.

If you are after a lighter flavor, you can bake the spread in a greased baking dish (at 180 C / 350 F) for about 35-40 minutes, like my mother does. You can then cut in squares and serve.

Serves 4 – 6
Preparation time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

3 medium zucchini (courgette), grated
150 gr / 6 oz Turkish white cheese or feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
3 green (spring) onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch dill, finely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
45 ml / 3 tablespoons all purpose (plain) white flour
Pinch of paprika or red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil (or sunflower oil) for shallow frying
Sprigs of dill for garnish

Garlic yoghurt to serve (optional)

Place the grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, crumble or grate the feta cheese.

Using a tea towel, squeeze out any excess water from the zucchini and put in a bowl.

Transfer the flour to a large bowl and beat in the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and beat into a batter (Take care not to add salt if your cheese is salty). Mix well.

In a frying pan, heat enough oil to shallow fry. Using a tablespoon, drop the spoonfuls of batter mix into the hot oil. Fry over a medium heat on both sides until golden brown. Remove with a straining spoon and drain on absorbent kitchen paper towel.

This meze (appetizer) can be enjoyed warm or you can make it in advance, and serve as a cold meze. Garnish with sprigs of dill and accompany with garlic infused yoghurt.

For garlic infused yoghurt, crush a couple of garlic cloves with salt. Combine the plain yoghurt and garlic and beat until smooth. Add salt to taste.

Afiyet Olsun,


Note: Squash is an effective diuretic and its potassium content benefits those with high blood pressure. Dill is known to aid digestion.

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Sautéed Aubergine (Eggplant), Courgette (Zucchini) and Peppers with Tomato Sauce-Saksuka

Patlicanli, kabakli saksuka; fried eggplants and zucchini in tomato and red pepper paste sauce

Patlicanli, kabakli saksuka; fried eggplants, peppers and zucchini in tomato and red pepper paste sauce

This is one of the most popular mezes, appetizers at home, featuring our beloved eggplant (aubergine). It is delicious and easy to make. Garlicky yoghurt accompanies this dish really well. I like to add a little Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi to it; it really adds a wonderful flavor. If you like to make your own red pepper paste, here is my recipe.

One of the joys in life for me is to cook and eat with friends and family. The life evolves around kitchen, children come and go and you get to cook with those dear to you, simply wonderful. We made and enjoyed this dish with friends this week; in Turkish we say “the food tastes better when shared” and it sure did.

Serves 4
Preparation time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

1 large aubergine (eggplant)
1 courgette (zucchini)
1 red bell pepper
2-3 chili peppers (as hot as you wish), kept whole or sliced in half
Sunflower oil for shallow frying
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the tomato sauce:
400gr/14oz can of chopped tomatoes

10ml/2tsp. Turkish hot pepper paste, biber salcasi (optional)
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed with salt
5ml/1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
15ml/1tablespoon olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Garlicky yoghurt sauce:
200ml/7fl oz thick and creamy natural plain yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400F (if you prefer to roast the vegetables)

Using a vegetable peeler, partially peel the aubergine in stripes. Cut the aubergine in half length ways and then cut each half into thick slices. Sprinkle salt over the eggplants and leave them aside for 15 minutes. Salt will help the moisture come out of the eggplants. Dry the eggplants with kitchen towel thoroughly (otherwise the excess water will cause the hot oil to spatter everywhere).

Cut the courgette in half lengthways and then cut it width ways into thick slices. Deseed the red bell pepper and cut it into bite size pieces. You can leave the chili peppers as a whole or cut in half if they are too big.

Heat enough oil in a wide pan. Sauté the vegetables in batches until they are golden brown. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Lightly season with salt and ground black pepper.  Alternatively, if you prefer to roast the vegetables, you can spread the sliced vegetables on a roasting tray and coat them with olive oil (about 2-3 tbsp) and season with salt and black pepper. You can then roast the vegetables in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes until they start to turn golden brown.

On a separate pan, sauté the garlic for a minute or so with the olive oil. Add the canned tomatoes and the hot pepper paste (if you are using) and mix well. Stir in the red pepper flakes and the parsley. Add salt and pepper to your taste. The tomato sauce is ready.

For the yoghurt sauce, beat the yoghurt with the garlic and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pile the hot vegetables on to a serving dish and spoon the tomato sauce over the top. Serve the yoghurt sauce by the side, accompanied by chunks of fresh bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

Afiyet Olsun,


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