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Turkish cig kofte is a wonderful finger food that makes a crowd more than happy. Just place one in a lettuce leaf, squeeze lemon and close your eyes to feel the taste with all of your taste buds.

This was one of the scrumptious mezzes on our table at Adana kebab restaurant. It is cig kofte in Turkish and is a special kofte in the south and southeast of Turkey. The ingredients are simple; bulgur, a special hot spice called isot and ground raw meat with no fat, tendons and sinews.

You ‘cook’ raw meat by kneading with isot, which is a special one made in this region. Isot is like a blackish paprik, so the color of cig kofte shows its quality. If it has a dark color, it means that the best isot is in it. Other ingredients are spices, pepper paste, super finely chopped onion and parsley.

Cig kofte is usually made by men as it requires some physical strength in the process of kneading. Kneading in this recipe is like cooking the meat, so you must have strong arms and fingers to get the best result.

Preparing this traditional finger food is like a ritual. There is a person who kneads the bulgur mixture and an assistant helping him by bringing what the kneading person asks for. He might ask for ingredients when it’s time to add,  a glass of water to drink, or a paper towel to dry his forehead because he sweats as a result of his effort. There are also guests watching them. They mostly listen to Turkish folk music or even they they themselves sing in this process.

Traditional way of eating cig kofte is rolling it in a lettuce leaf, squeezing lemon on it and accompanying with ayran or raki.

Some people refuse to eat this uncooked finger food because of raw meat in it, they find it unhealthy. On the other hand, it is said to be healthy because the harmful parts of meat are removed and also it is cooked when kneaded with spices, so there is nothing to worry.  It may not be the healthiest food, but I guess, I can tolerate this unhealthiness once in a blue moon. I just can’t ignore how scrumptious it is! You can’t stop eating these once you start it, but you shouldn’t eat a lot!


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