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Spiced bulgur balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach – Arap Koftesi and more

Merhaba dear All,

Spiced Bulgur balls over garlicky yoghurt and spinach, Arap Koftesi

Our Turkish cookery course in Amman – Jordan, with wonderful participants and Panthera Jordan

It has been a very special few days, as I traveled to Amman – Jordan for our 2 day Turkish cookery course; my sincere thanks to Panthera Jordan, dear Suhair Kilani for organising our wonderful course and all the amazing participants, it was a very memorable trip. One of the recipes from our Turkish cookery course, Spiced Bulgur balls over garlicky yoghurt and spinach, Arap Koftesi, was a big hit with the participants and I wanted to share with you all here, in this post. Bulgur balls here are deliciously flavoured with dried mint, cumin and red pepper flakes; served over garlicky yoghurt with spinach, it makes a wonderful and impressive vegetarian course, hope you enjoy the recipe below.

Spiced bulgur balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach - Arap Koftesi and more
This is a wonderful, regional vegetarian recipe from southern Turkey, perfect for buffets and entertaining and you can also make the bulgur balls ahead of time and keep in the freezer.
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: Turkish cuisine
Serves: 8 people
  • For the bulgur balls:
  • 340gr/2cups fine bulgur
  • 11fl oz/325 ml hot water
  • 2 eggs
  • 45ml/3 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the yoghurt and greens sauce:
  • 500gr lambs lettuce or spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 500gr/1 ¼ lb strained whole milk yoghurt
  • 2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the red pepper flakes and dried mint sauce:
  • • 30 gr butter
  • • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (please use ½ tablespoon if you like it less spicy, adjust to your taste)
  • • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  1. Rinse the bulgur and press and get rid of the excess moisture, then place in a large mixing bowl. Pour in 10 fl oz / 295ml hot water over first, stir and let the bulgur absorb the water. If bulgur (there could be different versions of fine bulgur) still looks raw, pour in about 1fl oz / 30ml more hot water and combine well. Let the bulgur absorb all the water and let it cool.
  2. Then stir in the eggs, flour, tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes. Have a bowl of cold water near you, wet your hands and knead the mixture well until all combined, elastic and smooth.
  3. Sprinkle some flour on a tray where we will put our bulgur balls (this will help the bulgur balls not to stick together).
  4. Form the bulgur balls as big as a large cherry and place on the tray with flour. Roll the bulgur balls over the flour and make sure they are coated well with the flour.
  5. Have boiling water in a large pot, stir in a pinch of salt. Gently drop the bulgur balls in to the pan and let it cook, uncovered, on a medium heat, for 8 minutes or so; once cooked, you will see the bulgur balls rise to the top of the pan. Take out the cooked bulgur balls with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.
  6. For the yoghurt and greens sauce; mix the garlic with the yoghurt. In a large bowl, combine the garlicy yoghurt with the chopped greens. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. For the red pepper flakes and dried mint sauce; melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the red pepper flakes and dried mint (please adjust the spice level to your taste). Gently stir in the bulgur balls and combine well with this sauce.
  8. Serve the sautéed bulgur balls over the garlicy yoghurt with greens, immediately.
  9. Afiyet Olsun.

We are delighted to offer 25 % off on Signed copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book  for food lovers around the world, it is delivered worldwide when ordered at this link. Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book is inspired from the lovingly made and shared traditional and authentic Turkish recipes passed down to me from my mother, parents and my grandparents and it is a joy to share with you all.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table podcast with Ghillie Basan – Now Live!

I had the huge pleasure and honor visiting dear Ghillie Basan at her magical wilderness retreat at the Cairngorms National Park last year, where she recorded our wonderful podcast talking about Turkish cuisine, my cookery journey with #ozlemsturkishtable cookery book , growing up in Turkey, my roots from Antakya, stories from home, Turkish hospitality and many more, over a scrumptious Turkish spread we cooked from my cookery book ❤️💐🇹🇷 it was a very special time and I am still full of wonderful memories of our time together in Scotland. The podcast is now live, I copied the link here; I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making the podcast.

Ozlem’s Turkish Table book signing, Supper Club and Cookery Classes in Fethiye

Our Turkish breakfast and Turkish cuisine talk at the Yakamoz Hotel

Ozlem’s Turkish Table book signing at Yakamoz Hotel

We had a magical few days in Fethiye end April, where I did a talk on Turkish cuisine over a scrumptious Turkish breakfast, very kindly hosted by Yakamoz Hotel in Fethiye, followed by Ozlem’s Turkish Table book signings. We also hosted a delicious Antakya style supper club at the wonderful Mozaik Bahce restaurant, with recipes from my book; Mozaik Bahce showcases one of the best examples of Antakya and southern Turkish cuisine and it has been such a pleasure to cook in the kitchen together. Last but not least, we did a hands on Turkish cookery class at the Yakamoz Hotel with their wonderful team; it was a very memorable class – so much that I am already looking forward to being back!

Our delicious Antakya style supper club at Mozaik Bahce – Fethiye

Talking about Turkish cuisine at Mozaik Bahce

Enjoying Mozaik Bahce’s scrumptious mezes

My sincere thanks to everyone joined us in Fethiye, and Yakamoz Hotel and Mozaik Bahce for their very kind hospitality. A very sincere thanks goes to dear Lyn Ward, owner of Fethiye Times , for all her kindness and support for our events, cok tesekkurler – can’t wait to return! A few photos from our memorable time in Fethiye.

Our very memorable Turkish cookery class at Yakamoz Hotel


Strolling through magical Galata, Istanbul

I hope you enjoy the post, recipes and photos from my homeland, Afiyet Olsun,


10 Responses to Spiced bulgur balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach – Arap Koftesi and more

  1. Deborah Kıvrak May 4, 2019 at 8:30 am #

    Hi Ozlem,i made these and put some finely chopped fried onions into the was delicious

    • Ozlem Warren May 5, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

      Merhaba dear Deborah, what a brilliant idea; the sauteed onions would add such a delicious flavour and sweetness, must try that. It was lovely to meet you in Fethiye, I am really itching to come back – insallah October time, and would love to visit you in Kalkan, fingers crossed.

  2. Mona January 20, 2020 at 6:15 pm #

    Hello, thank you so much for sharing your beautiful and delicious recipes. I am attempting this one now, but I am wondering what the consistency of the bulgur mixture should be before shaping? Mine is a bit loose…I’m thinking I did something wrong, but I’m not sure what?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Mona January 20, 2020 at 6:29 pm #

      Sorry, one more question— should the balls be coated in the flour, or just placed uncoated on the floured tray?

      • Ozlem Warren January 21, 2020 at 10:56 am #

        Merhaba Mona, many thanks for your note – wetting your hands in a bowl of cold water really helps when shaping the bulgur balls. Once you put flour in the tray and bulgur balls over it and if you roll the balls in flour on the tray, they will be coated. Do hope you enjoy this delicious recipe, Afiyet Olsun, Ozlem

  3. Szilvia February 16, 2020 at 6:07 pm #

    Hello Özlem,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe! However, I am experiencing difficulties with this one… I tried it four times, and I could hardly even form balls from the mixture, though finally managed it. But when I put them into the boiling water (I tried with cold and hot water as well), they just dissolved. I left the bulgur soak in the water for about 2 hours, I kneaded the paste for 10-15 minutes, I watered my hand before shaping the little balls… what else could I have gotten wrong?

    • Ozlem Warren February 20, 2020 at 5:42 pm #

      Merhaba dear Szilvia,

      Many thanks for your note – it is a strange one, my worked out perfectly. I wondered if you are using fine bulgur wheat, as coarse bulgur wouldn’t work here. Eggs should really bind the bulgur balls with the flour (some folks use semolina too, instad of flour, to help with the binding). When forming the bulgur balls, it is quite tight shaping with wet hands. Do hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions. Many thanks and Afifet Olsun, Ozlem

    • Nubia Gomez March 9, 2021 at 11:41 pm #

      I followed the directions exactly and I’m using the wheat fine bulgar. However, I can’t seem to form the balls. The consistency doesn’t seem right.

      • Ozlem Warren March 10, 2021 at 10:00 am #

        Merhaba, many thanks for giving it a go. The fine bulgur I had worked here, there could be different types of fine bulgur – some finer than other – so I wonder if you use less hot water (11 fl oz / 325 ml) at the beginning, I am hoping that it would help. The bulgur dough needs to be kneaded well, until smooth and elastic. Do hope it helps, many thanks again, Ozlem


  1. Spiced bulgur balls over garlic yoghurt with spinach – Arap Koftesi and more | Recipe Heaven - May 12, 2019

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