Almost Turkish Recipes

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.


  1. Anonymous6:36 PM

    Merhaba Burcu, my husband is also from Tekirdag. I am Turkish as well but born in America. We absolutely love Tekirdag koftesi, and I am definitely going to try this recipe at home. I will be checking your site often for more ideas! Thanks, Leyla.

  2. Merhaba Leyla,
    I'm sure your husband will like these meatballs. They're not 100% authentic Tekirdag meatballs, but for those who are homesick like us, they're perfect.

  3. Yum! I love meatballs and these look delicious. I love the spices in them. And mint! Love mint!

  4. My husband ate something similar to this at a Middle Eastern restaurant. He would be thrilled if I surprised him with this (I'm vegetarian). It must be wonderful.

    Thanks for visiting my blog, because now I found yours!

  5. This is so beautiful! I would love to try this. :)

  6. Merhaba sevgili Burcu,
    Uzaklardan bir merhaba yollamak istedim, Antalya'dan.
    Sevgiler, selamlar.

  7. Merhaba Burcu, I was wondering if you could help me. My parents have an apartment in Silivri not far from Tekirdag and every year I am there I always try various kofte which are always delicious but what I am after is a recipe for a sauce I tried in many restaurants which I was told is called Tekirdag sauce which I love to dip my kofte in. I have looked on the internet for it but can find it nowhere. If you could help me with this I would be ever so thankful.

    1. Anonymous3:55 AM

      hello,what I have in mind is a sauce that we do here in Greece and use for meat and koftes and kebabs .We call it "paprika" and we use red baked or grilled peppers(not spicy) , tomato paste , feta cheese a little bit of mustard (if you wish) some olive oil , oregano lots of spicy red pepper flakes and sweet red pepper grounded and smoked (we find it at the seasonings departement in super markets it is not flakes it is powder).We put it all in a food proccesor untill smooth .I hope I have helped

  8. Guth: What you're looking for is homemade red pepper paste sauce. I'm not surprised that you couldn't find it online. I'm not sure if you can find a similar sauce even in Turkey. My suggestion, though not very practical, would be that next time you're in Silivri, hop on a bus for Tekirdag on a Thursday (big farmers market day there) and to buy a big batch of the sauce from villagers.

  9. Merhaba again Burca. Thank you for replying so quickly. I agree your suggestion may not be practical but at least now I know where I can get it. Next time I visit Turkey Tekirdag will be my first stop. My life wont be complete with out this sauce to try your Tekirdag kofte with. Thanks again!

  10. Looks so delicious! I will definately try this recipe at home, though I think one main reason why restaurant/professionally catered food tastes so different (and better, usually) than homemade food (even when that food is really tasty itself) is because of the quantities in which it is made and the very long time that restaurants can devote to preparation of it in advance. This is certainly the case at celebration (esp. wedding) food in Morocco, where people almost always hire professional cooks to make huge feasts.

  11. becky5:51 PM

    Merhaba,Burcu. You're not the only one homesick for Turkey! We were stationed in Izmir from 1966-68 while my dad worked with NATO. Every American military brat that I've corresponded with misses Turkey so much....and would love to go visit again. There's even a yahoogroups for people who lived in Izmir.
    Your recipes sound mouthwatering. I can't wait to try them.
    Gule, gule.

  12. roshan8:06 AM

    Merhaba Burcu, I am Uigur turk and I love turkish foods. I will try to make this, it looks so yummy! But please help me, what is " `Semolina' ? Where can I buy it? is it some kind of seasoning? is there any thing I can use instead of semolina just in case if I cant find it? or any substitute?


  13. Roshan, semolina is purified middlings of wheat. You can find it in bulk where you buy dry legumes or rice. If you cannot find it try Inegol kofte recipe, it is also very tasty.

  14. Connie Yildirim9:08 PM

    We made this recipe about two weeks ago and it turned out great!

    My [Turkish] husband and I tried to find a recipe for the sauce but were unsuccessful.

    I remembered seeing a recipe for cevapcici (Serbian/Croation version of köfte) and ajvar in an old issue of Saveur magazine. I know it's not the same sauce used for Tekirdağ köfte but husband kept whinning about not having a sauce. It actually turned out much that we plan to use it the next time we make this recipe.

    I used semolina was not hard to find. It was in the baking section with all the fancy (aka expensive) flours. I'm not sure if this was the right thing to use...but it turned out just fine.

    The only reason I had semolina was because I used it when I tried out a recipe for Şöbiyet. If you haven't had Şöbiyet, then that's another good excuse for buying semolina. :-)

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe :-)

  15. Anonymous12:51 PM

    My husband kissed my hands after eating these. I cooked these in the oven at 375 for about 40 minutes over sliced favorite kofte recipe!