Mouth-Watering Vegetarian Burgul Balls in Garlicky Yogurt Sauce

This recipe actually brought water to my mouth even as I was reading it through. Then I cooked these spicy bulgur balls and set the platter on the table. The  family and guests simply snarfed it up; not a scrap left.  This bit of Turkish home cuisine is called Arap Koftesi, and I discovered it in Özlem’s Turkish Table.

One thing I particularly liked was the mention of lamb’s lettuce, a foraged green. No lamb’s lettuce growing conveniently nearby? The author offers spinach as an alternative. I expect more delicious recipes will immigrate from Turkey to my own kitchen via that cozy cookbook.

Don’t be intimidated by the length of the recipe. The method is easy, and author Özlem Warren says that the bulgur balls may be made ahead and frozen. 

Burgul Balls in Garlicky Yogurt and Greens
Serves: 8 people

For the bulgur balls:

340gr/2cups fine bulgur

12fl oz/ 1 ½ cup hot water

2 eggs

45ml/3 tbsp plain flour

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon ground cumin

½ tablespoon red pepper flakes

Salt and black pepper to taste

For the yogurt sauce:

500gr/2 and 1/4 cups lambs lettuce or spinach leaves, washed and roughly chopped

500gr/1 ¼ lb strained whole milk yogurt

2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

For the red pepper flakes/mint sauce:

30 gr/ 2 tablespoons butter

1/2 – 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes 

1 tablespoon dried mint

  1. Rinse the bulgur and place in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the hot water, cover and let the bulgur absorb the water. Uncover, mix 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 to dip your hands into as you work. Knead the mixture well until all is combined and smooth.
  3. Sprinkle a little flour on a tray where you can place the bulgur balls (this will help the bulgur balls not to stick together).
  4. Roll the bulgur into balls as big as cherries and place on the floured tray .
  5. Have boiling, lightly salted water in a large pot. Gently drop the bulgur balls in. Let them cook, uncovered, on a medium heat, for 8 minutes or so. You will see them rise to the top of the pan when they’re done.
  6. Take out the cooked bulgur balls with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate.
  7. Mix the garlic with the yogurt in a large bowl. Mix in the chopped greens. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the yogurt with greens over a serving platter.
  8. Melt the butter in a sauce pan and stir in the red pepper flakes and dried mint.
  9. Gently stir in the bulgur balls and combine well with this sauce.
  10. Serve the sautéed bulgur balls over the garlicky yogurt with greens, immediately.

My note: I have tried this recipe with finely sliced, tender bok choy instead of spinach (or lamb’s lettuce). If using raw spinach worries you, I suggest sautéeing it briefly in olive oil, draining it well, and lightly salting it. 





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