This delicious traditional Turkish bulgar kofte is vegan, a little spicy, and packed with flavor. I give you the easiest method to make cig kofte (cigkofte) successfully, and you’ll love how this exotic vegan kofte dish tastes. So healthy and delicious!
What is cig kofte?
Cig kofte or chi kofte is a regional speciality in southeast Anatolia. It’s usually served as as mezze or appetizer, although it’s definitely filling enough to be a main. It’s also commonly served as Armenian kofte, and has vegan iterations like this one.
Cig kofte literally translates to “raw meatballs”. That’s because some forms of this recipe use ground raw meat in them, mixed with bulgur and served raw.
There are many vegan kofte versions that omit the meat altogether. This cig kofte is one of those, the raw meatballs in this case are made entirely from bulgur.
It’s sort of like a meatless steak tartare that’s commonly eaten with a squeeze of lemon or wrapped in lettuce leaves.
Why should I make this dish?
It’s utterly healthy. Bulgur is cracked whole grain wheat berries, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Cig kofte is vegan, nourishing, and packed with both flavor and good for you nutrients.
Using an electric mixer, like I did, saves you from kneading by hand which most recipes calls for. They ask you to knead for 45-50 minutes! Who has the time (or hand strength!) for that. This comes together really easily, with the mixer doing all the work.
The flavors in this are so distinct and unique. The roasted red peppers, Middle Eastern spices, pomegranate molasses, ground walnuts, the whole thing is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Vegan cig kofte is definitely a wow factor dish.
Cig Kofte Ingredients- What do I need to make this?
Fine bulgur: Since we aren’t boiling the bulgur, use the fine consistency so that it softens once it’s mixed with and absorbs the other ingredients.
Warm water: Mixed with the bulgur and left to soak.
Ground walnuts: If you want this recipe to be nut free, you can omit them. Otherwise, they add a beautiful texture and flavor to the kofte.
Spices: Salt, dried coriander, seven spices or allspice, black pepper, cumin, red chili flakes, chili powder, sumac, and paprika. I added a lot of spices to give a big punch of flavor, but there’s a couple you can definitely leave out if you don’t have on hand (like the ground coriander, sumac, or allspice).
Roasted red peppers: Just use jarred roasted red peppers, and blend them into a paste. That’s what I did instead of trying to source Turkish pepper paste, and it worked out great.
Tomato paste: I use this instead of fresh tomatoes that have been blended, and it’s an easier hack that gives a rich and concentrated flavor.
Pomegranate molasses: A syrup of boiled pomegranate juice, commonly found in Middle Eastern grocery stores, online, and even regular supermarkets now.
Parsley: Chopped fresh parsley gives a bright flavor that finishes off this kofte.
Olive Oil: Just a touch of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Ice cubes: These add liquid to moisten the kofte, and to prevent the kofte from warming too much while mixing in the stand mixer.
How to make cig kofte:
- Add the bulgur and warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and mix briefly until just combined. Cover the bowl, and let the bulgur soak up the water for 20 minutes before proceeding.
- Add all the remaining ingredients except for the ice cubes, and mix on low speed for 20 minutes. After 5 minutes has passed, and for the next two 5 minute intervals add in a couple of ice cube, for a total of 6 cubes.
- The bulgur kofte is ready! Form into kofte kababs by taking a couple heaped tablespoon of kofte mix and placing it in the palm of your hand. Squeeze your fingers over the mix to make indentations, then place on a serving platter. If the kofte mixture is too soft, place in the fridge for a couple of hours to chill.
Check out the video in the recipe card to see how to form the kofte!
What to serve cig kofte with:
This is very traditionally and simply served with lettuce leaves and lemon slices on the side. You can make little cig kofte wraps with the lettuce leaves.
Recipe tips and tricks:
- If you find the kofte mix difficult to form into patties, chill the kofte mixture for 1-2 hours in the fridge and it should be much easier to work with.
- Let the bulgur soak up the water before kneading in the stand mixer, it’ll soften the bulgur wheat and give it an ideal texture.
- You can also knead by hand, but to actually soften it enough you’ll have to knead for nearly 30 minutes! That’s why using a stand mixer is so much more convenient.
Cig Kofte FAQs:
No, it won’t blend into the mixture and will cause rough and misshapen kofte. Use fine bulgur for the best result!
This is a vegan recipe. I haven’t tried it, but there are some recipes out there that detail the steps of adding raw meat to this cig kofte. It would be about 200g (8oz) of meat, that needs to be really top quality, fat free and finely ground.
Very healthy! It’s great for meatless Monday, full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and no unrefined carbs.
Yes, you can prepare the kofte mix and keep it overnight tightly covered in the fridge. This will make it easier to form the kofte patties the next day.
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Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card and a comment!
- 2 cups fine bulgur
- 2 cups warm water
- 1/2 cup ground walnuts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon seven spices or allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon chill powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac, optional
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup roasted red peppers, blended into a paste
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 6 ice cubes
- Add the bulgur and warm water to the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix for 20 seconds until combined. Remove the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes in order for the bulgur to absorb the water.
- Add all the remaining ingredients, the walnuts, salt, dried coriander, all spice, cumin, black pepper, red chili flakes, sumac, chili powder, paprika, minced garlic, diced onion, lemon juice, olive oil, roasted red pepper paste, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, and diced parsley.
- Mix on low speed for 20 minutes. Every 5 minutes, add in 2 ice cubes until you've added 6 total. This adds a little liquid to the mixture and also prevents it from getting too warm while mixing.
- Once the 20 minutes is over, you can form the kofte patties. To make the kofte easier to work with, you can refrigerate the bulgur mix for an hour or two (or overnight) or you can proceed in shaping them right away.
- Place about 2 heaped tablespoon of bulgur dough into the palm of your hand, and make a fist, squeezing your fingers on top of the dough to make some indentations. Alternately, you can form little kebab shaped patties and press your fingers on top to make the indentations. (check out the video to see these methods). Repeat with all the bulgur mix.
- Serve with lettuce leaves and lemon wedges on the side, you can place the kofte into the lettuce to enjoy!