Merhaba Dear All,
I hope this note finds you all well. We have been enjoying this delicious vegan bulgur balls, Bulgur Koftesi, with sautéed greens, onions, peppers, and I wanted to share with you too. Bulgur is a main staple in southern Turkish cuisine and enjoyed in multiple ways –such as in salads as in Kisir, Spicy Bulgur Wheat Salad in bulgur patties as in Oruk, our version of baked kibbeh, in pilafs and more. This delicious bulgur kofte is from southern Turkey; in Antakya, the sauce is mainly made with spinach or pazi, similar to Swiss chard and garlic. In my version, I included sautéed onions and peppers to the mix too; their natural sweetness really complemented the cumin spiced bulgur balls, along with the greens. Spinach, Swiss chard or spring greens would work well here as alternatives. With the freshness from squeeze of lemon and a delicious heat from pul biber or red pepper flakes, it is a lovely meal. You can serve as meze or as a main with cucumber and yoghurt dip aside. These Baked potatoes with olives, peppers and red onions can be a nice accompaniment too. If you prefer not to use red pepper paste, you can use concentrated tomato paste, though the red pepper paste does add a deliciously rich flavor.
I have been experimenting with the bulgur balls and added semolina in the mixture recently. It worked really well; semolina not only helps making the bulgur balls moist but also binds the bulgur dough. You can enjoy them over the sauteed leafy greens, with Shepherd’s Salad with sumac. Garlicky yoghurt (or plant based alternative) complements these bulgur balls, bulgur koftesi very well too, for a delicious, satisfying meal.
- For the bulgur balls:
- 340g/12oz fine (koftelik) bulgur
- 140g/5oz semolina
- 30ml/2 tbsp all - purpose plain flour
- 15ml /1 tbsp Turkish red pepper paste / biber salcasi
- 45ml/3 tbsp double concentrated tomato paste
- 15m/1 tbsp ground cumin
- 325ml/11 fl oz hot water (for the bulgur)
- 115ml/ 4fl oz hot water (while kneading the bulgur and semolina dough later)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Bowl of lukewarm water with a drizzle of olive oil to shape the bulgur balls
- 30ml/2tbsp plain flour spread on a wide tray (to coat the bulgur balls)
- For the pul biber and tomato paste sauce:
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 45ml/3tbsp olive oil
- 30ml/2 tbsp double concentrated tomato paste
- Handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 10ml/2tsp pul biber or red pepper flakes (add more if you like more spicy)
- For the vegetable sauce:
- 2 tbsp/ 30ml olive oil
- 1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
- 310gr/ 11oz Swiss chard, spinach or spring greens, coarsely chopped (please remove any hard stalks)
- 1 red pepper, deseeded, quartered and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon of pul biber, Turkish red pepper flakes – optional-
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Wedges of lemon to serve (optional)
- Garlicky yoghurt (or plant based substitute) to serve (optional):
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped and crushed with salt
- 225g/8oz natural plain yoghurt (or plant based alternative)
- First prepare your bulgur balls. Rinse the bulgur over a sieve and press gently to get rid of the excess moisture then place in a large mixing bowl. Pour in 325ml/11 fl oz hot water over the bulgur, stir and let the bulgur to absorb the hot water for 8-10 minutes.
- Then stir in the semolina, plain flour, pepper paste, tomato paste, ground cumin, season with salt and ground black pepper. Slowly pour in 115ml/ 4fl oz hot water in two batches and knead the mixture with your hands for 5 minutes, until it resembles a soft, smooth dough. Check the seasoning and add more salt or black pepper to your taste.
- Have the lukewarm water bowl with a drizzle of olive oil near you. Dampen your hands and take a large cherry size bulgur dough and shape as a little ball. Have a wide tray scattered with 2 tbsp plain flour near you. Place the bulgur balls you have made on the tray. Shake the tray so that the bulgur balls coat with the flour gently,
- Pour in 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 bulgur balls rise to the top of the pan. Take out the cooked bulgur balls with a slotted spoon and place on a large bowl. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons olive oil over them and gently shake the bowl so that they would have a nice olive oil coating and don't stick together. Set aside until the tomato paste & pul biber sauce and vegetable sauce is ready (you can make your bulgur balls ahead of time and keep in the fridge too).
- For the vegetable sauce; pour in 2 tbsp olive oil on a wide pan. Stir in the sliced onions and peppers and saute over medium to high heat for about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the chopped leafy greens (please remove the hard stalk for the Swiss chard and spring greens) and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and ground pepper to your taste. If you like, sprinkle Turkish red pepper flakes, pul biber and combine well.
- For the pul biber and tomato paste sauce; pour in the olive oil over a wide pan. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and pul biber and saute for 2 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped parsley, combine well. Gently stir in the cooked bulgur balls over this sauce and combine well for 1-2 minutes. Turn the heat off.
- For the garlicky yoghurt; combine the crushed, finely chopped garlic with yoghurt (or plant based alternative), set aside.
- Serve the bulgur balls over the vegetable mixture or at a side, with wedges of lemon by the side to squeeze over. Garlicky yoghurt (or plant based alternative) complement these bulgur balls, bulgurlu kofte very well.
- Afiyet Olsun.
I hope you enjoy the post and it inspires. Signed hardback copies of Ozlem’s Turkish Table cookery book is now 20 % off at this link, for a limited time, and delivered worldwide, if you like to get a copy. If you live in the USA, Canada or Mexico, you can now get a hardback copy with lower delivery rates here.
Stay well, Afiyet Olsun,
I made these for our meal tonight using the first crop of our Swiss Chard from the garden. We REALLY enjoyed the dish. The bulgur balls are lovely and definitely something a little different from our usual weekday meals. We liked them so much that we’ll probably try page 183 in your lovely book next (Patlicanli Eksi Aṣi) since we’re not vegetarian. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.
Merhaba dear Phil,
I am really over the moon that you enjoyed these bulgur balls -with freshly picked chard from your garden, I can imagine they must be delightful, so happy to hear it- Afiyet olsun, my best wishes, Ozlem
Hi Ozlem. I tried these but I firstly had problems getting the bulgar dough to stick together even though i kneaded for over 5 mins so added more water. Secondly they collapsed when I went to boil them. Any ideas where I went wrong?
Hi Tracey, many thanks for giving this ago, I am sorry to hear the bulgur balls hasn’t shaped well for you, I wonder why. Did you use fine bulgur – as coarse bulgur wouldn’t work here – flour is the binding agent here and wetting your hands in water with drizzle of olive oil helps with shaping. When shaping into the balls, form the balls firmly – mine was actually much firmer and sturdier than I thought they would turn up. Once the bulgur balls are firm, they should cook in the boiling water with no problems. Another idea, perhaps is to have some flour on your tray, where you keep the shaped bulgur balls, before cooking, and gently roll into the flour for another binding? I didn’t do this but just thought it may help. Please let me know if I can help further, Afiyet olsun, Ozlem